Western Bulldogs veteran Tom Liberatore could play in three weeks

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After obtaining “specialist review and opinion” Western Bulldogs gun Tom Liberatore has been cleared to make a return to full training following a worrying concussion.

Liberatore has been sidelined twice by concussion this season, collapsing on Marvel Stadium during a clash against Essendon and then having his face cut open by the boot of Hawthorn’s Conor Nash’s in round 8 which again caused him to stumble.

Despite the dual issues, Bulldogs have cleared Liberatore to return with a view to him playing again in three weeks.

“We have continued to be very diligent and thorough in our processes for assessing and managing Tom following his most recent concussion in Round 8,” Bulldogs Head of Sports Medicine, Chris Bell, said on Monday.

“This has involved specialist review and opinion to help guide his return to play planning.

“In some great news, after some reassuring results, we have a devised a structured return to play plan, that if everything goes well, will see Tom returning to play across the next 2-3 weeks.“

Liberatore’s return comes after Bulldogs draftee Aiden O’Driscoll had to be medically retired by the AFL after a single head knock during the pre-season which caused damage on his most recent brain scans.

But the news was not as good for defender Jason Johannisen who will spend an “extended stint” on the sidelines after injuring his hamstring at training last week.

“Jason was running at speed and went to change direction and slipped on the wet ground at training last week,” Bell said.

“This has caused him to overstretch his hamstring and suffer a moderate grade hamstring strain.

“At this stage I anticipate that JJ will miss the next 4-5 weeks with this injury.”

Key defender Ryan Gardner will also miss the next three months after damaging his wrist at training.

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