AFL 2024; Tom Liberatore could return for the Western Bulldogs

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Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore could be cleared for his AFL comeback against Brisbane as early as this Friday after suffering a series of concussions and meeting “all possible criteria” to be ready.

But Norm Smith medalist Jason Johannisen suffered another setback: He sustained a calf injury while rehabbing his thigh injury over the weekend and will not return for at least six weeks.

Liberatore has not played since suffering a second concussion of the season against Hawthorn in round eight. He has missed six games this season for protocol reasons after also falling behind against Essendon in round five.

He needed approval from outside specialists to even be able to continue training, but the 32-year-old has been training intensively for over a month and could play against the Lions on Friday evening.

“Tom has built great continuity into his training over the past few weeks,” said Chris Bell, Bulldogs director of sports medicine.

“He has made the progress we hoped for and has met all the possible criteria to declare his readiness for deployment.”

“If he gets through the main training session on Wednesday as expected, he will be ready to play again.”

Ed Richards, who filled the gap in midfield left by Liberatore, is also expected to return after his own concussion, with a decision on whether to play will be made in the next 48 to 72 hours.

But James Harmes will have to sit out for a while after suffering a thigh injury in last week’s win against Collingwood.

“Scans have confirmed that James has suffered a minor thigh injury,” Bell said.

“I expect he will be out of football for the next three to four weeks.”

Laitham Vandermeer, who left the same game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury, could still play against the Lions after follow-up examinations.

confirmed a “fluid accumulation around his hamstring” which was caused by a cork.

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