Keath on track for AFL pre-season

Western Bulldogs recruits Alex Keath and Josh Bruce are fit and ready to play for their new club during the pre-season series.

ALEX KEATH.
ALEX KEATH. Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The Western Bulldogs are confident they will be able to unleash their two boom trade recruits during the AFL pre-season series as defender Alex Keath makes strong progress in his return from ankle surgery.

Former Adelaide backman Keath and ex-St Kilda forward Josh Bruce were targeted during the trade period to fill gaps in the Dogs' best line-up.

The pair shape as valuable bookends for their new side as Luke Beveridge's men target a deeper run into September after last year's first-week exit.

Bruce was an early arrival at pre-season training and hasn't missed a beat over summer.

Keath, who went under the knife in October, has ramped up his training load in recent weeks.

New captain Marcus Bontempelli was hopeful the 28-year-old would be available to play a role when the Bulldogs take on North Melbourne in their February 21 pre-season opener at Marvel Stadium.

"Keathy's done everything right from a rehab point of view and he's obviously now on track to play in the Marsh (pre-season) games," Bontempelli told reporters on Monday.

"It's a really good sign and good for us to sort of build some chemistry with him and Joshy. They're going well."

Keath is expected to slot into a key defensive post alongside a combination of Zaine Cordy, Jackson Trengove and Easton Wood, while Bruce will add firepower to a tall forward line with Aaron Naughton and Josh Schache.

"They've fitted in almost seamlessly," Bontempelli said.

"They're such quality people and professionals and that makes it easy to have them come into the group and have an impact straight away.

"I guess as a group that's what you want them to feel; you want them to feel comfortable straight away so they can feel like it's home pretty quickly."

Bontempelli was buoyed by the maturity Keath and Bruce had brought to a relatively inexperienced playing group.

"We're quite a young team still, young in experience and age as well, so to add two blokes who have both been around a little while - and we obviously know how they can play - was a big win for us," Bontempelli said.


AAP