Western Bulldogs coach has indicated that Rory Lobb is "most likely" to replace the injured Aaron Naughton in the forward for Friday's clash with Collingwood.

Lobb - who was swept up in trade speculation earlier in the week - has found himself playing in the VFL more often than not, with coach Luke Beveridge opting to select Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and Sam Darcy, with the latter supporting Tim English in the ruck.

 2024-05-31T09:40:00Z 
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However, in each of his three appearances in 2024, the former Giant has been in place of either Darcy (Round 1) or Ugle-Hagan (Rounds 6 and 7), slotting only one goal and running at an average of 10 disposals and just under four marks per game.

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On Wednesday, Beveridge lifted the lid on Lobb's conversation with him after the trade speculation, saying he reminded him of a student heading to the "principal's office".

"He came in and saw me, and I was even aware of it," Beveridge told reporters.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs celebrates after scoring a goal during the 2023 AFL Round 06 match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on April 21, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Will Russell/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

"And he's looking at me as though he's walked into the principal's office... he was quite apologetic and embarrassed by it. And I just reassured him... if that's what's transpiring, whether it's rumour or innuendo, or if it's actually factual, it doesn't matter to me.

"You're one of our people, one of our players and we take care of you.

"You'll continue to play AFL footy when your form is right and there's a spot for you."

Lobb's form in the VFL has been worthy of a recall, slotting 17 goals in seven outings, which included two hauls of four and one bag of five.

However, the lack of availability in the forward line has been the sticking point for the 31-year-old to return, although Naughton's absence has opened the door.

"Most likely (Lobb will play)," the 2016 premiership coach said.

"With Aaron coming out of the team... he's (Lobb) been playing a critical role at state level."

Lobb's inclusion will allow Beveridge to be more flexible with captain Marcus Bontempelli, who was thrown forward when Naughton was injured during the loss to Sydney.

Marcus Bontempelli during the 2022 AFL Round 1 match between Melbourne and Western Bulldogs (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Media)

"We needed Marcus to go forward because we were lacking some height at times," Beveridge said.

"That was a really good experience for us.

"But it's not the time to put (Bontempelli up forward) permanently with the depth of our midfield being tested.

"I think over Marcus' journey and later in his career that becomes something he does more often, but always with him, striking a blend... he'll find himself forward and that will still be important for us."