Dogs scratching for numbers as skipper ruled out

THE WESTERN Bulldogs are facing a selection headache for their upcoming match against Geelong, with skipper Ellie Blackburn ruled out through the AFL's health and safety protocols.

While COVID-19 hasn't been a huge issue for the club as yet, injuries have, with coach Nathan Burke saying the Bulldogs had the bare minimum to choose from for their loss to Melbourne.

Young pair Aurora Smith and Annabel Strahan were the Bulldogs' emergencies in round one and were the side's last remaining available players.

Isabel Huntington (ACL) was ruled out for the season on Monday.

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Ellie Blackburn discusses the impact of Isabel Huntington's ACL agony

Key defender Katie Lynch is a chance to return from a quad injury, as is Sarah Hartwig (health and safety), but Ellyse Gamble (ankle), Deanna Berry (ACL) and Hannah Scott are at least several weeks away.

Burke said defender Bailey Hunt was a "maybe" for this week.

AFLW GAMES AND COVID SAFETY All you need to know

The club leant on top-up players Jemima Woods, Eliza Morrison and Riley Christoergl in its heavy practice match loss to North Melbourne.

During the season, top-up players can be selected (either in the 21 or as emergencies) if the club has fewer than 23 available players.

The AFL's COVID regulations state that games will go ahead until a club has fewer than 16 primary listed players (and five top-up players) available, upon which it will be either postponed or cancelled at a last resort.

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