Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has revealed his “huge surprise” at learning of Josh Dunkley’s AFL trade request but expects the versatile on-baller to slot comfortably back into the team next season.
Dunkley publicly declared he wanted more guaranteed midfield time elsewhere and nominated Essendon as his club of choice during the recent trade period.
But the Dogs were steadfast in their demand for two first-round draft picks in return for the contracted 23-year-old, and a deal was not reached before the November 12 deadline.
Beveridge caught up with Dunkley last week to clear the air and said the trade request is now water under the bridge.
“All that matters to me and to our club is that he’s with us,” Beveridge told SEN on Wednesday.
“If we delve into the whys and the wherefores, it’s not going to help us settle him again and bridge him into the future.
“If there is any tension there as far as what he feels is something that affects him, then we need to discuss it, but he reassures me that things are fine.”
The Bulldogs secured gun on-baller Adam Treloar from Collingwood during the trade period, adding to their midfield depth.
It will only increase the pressure for spots that Dunkley, who is contracted for two more seasons, was concerned about.
“We’ve got a significant amount of inside mids who are candidates to play,” Beveridge said.
“Some of those boys can play forward and on wings and even at half-back, depending on performance and where you want to place them.
“The other thing with that mix of ours is we’ve still got some long-term things on our mind.”
One of those considerations is the longevity of Tom Liberatore, who Beveridge hopes can play for at least another two years.
But the coach concedes he won’t know when the “time bomb” will go off for the 28-year-old, who has endured a string of serious knee injuries.
Beveridge also declared the ongoing list management period has been “as intense as they come” due to a series of AFL-enforced changes, including reductions in playing list sizes and the salary cap.
It has come on the end of a difficult year in which clubs were forced to make significant numbers of staff redundant as part of league-wide cost-cutting measures.