MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 25: Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs celebrates a goal ahead of David Astbury of the Tigers during the round 23 AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The Western Bulldogs have looked to assure Josh Dunkley of his place as an inside midfielder with the club in an attempt to retain his services for 2021.

Dunkley officially requested a move to Essendon this week, with Bulldogs list manager Sam Power revealing on Friday that the 23-year-old’s main reason for seeking a move away from the kennel was due to the idea of being an “influential as an inside midfielder”.

“I’ve had a few conversations with Josh over the last couple of weeks and Bevo has as well,” he said on AFL Trade Radio.

“We see Josh as an inside midfielder, so those opportunities that he thinks that Essendon may be able to provide … we know that we’d be able to provide Josh with those same opportunities – and that’s where we see him playing long-term at the footy club.”

Power added that the Bulldogs and Bombers weren’t close on a trade that would satisfy both parties and believes Dunkley would be content to play out his contract at Whitten Oval.

“We’ll keep talking (with Dunkley), because there’s every chance that he’s here as a Bulldogs player – and that’s what we want,” Power said.

“We’ve got no issues if a trade isn’t done with Josh walking back into the football club because of the type of person Josh is and what he provides both on and off the field. We know that he’d walk back in and get back to work and be really valuable for us.”

However, Power has revealed the club are now “open to different situations”.

“Dunks is a valuable player to the group and such an important player and one that we feel is going to be an important player for a long period of time,” he said.

“Priority is definitely to keep him. He’s obviously come out, through Liam (Pickering), and said that his preference is to go to Essendon, so we have to be now open to different situations. But we’ll work through that with Essendon.

“But our preference and position hasn’t changed in Josh’s importance to the club and us wanting him to remain a Western Bulldogs player.”

Power added that Dunkley’s request came as quite a surprise to the club.

“Yeah it did, with how much we value Josh. He’s part of our leadership group and someone we see as an integral part and we’ve planned for to be an integral part going forward.

“We extended him out by three years halfway through the 2019 season and that obviously demonstrated how he felt about the club and what we thought about him going forward.”