Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has left the door open for Stefan Martin's return for this Sunday's elimination final, however has flagged some doubts in the veteran ruckman lining up against Essendon in Tasmania.
Martin has battled hip and groin setbacks since Round 12, leaving Tim English to man the ruck duties for a majority of the latter-end of this season.
The move left some to question the Bulldogs' credentials to match it with fellow premiership contenders, prompting further hopes to see Martin return to his place in Beveridge's lineup.
However, when speaking to media on Tuesday, Beveridge said the 34-year-old is facing an uphill battle to come into his side for their must-win clash against Essendon.
"It's not whether Stef can turn up to stoppages and get his hands on the ball, it's whether he can play four quarters and it's whether he can operate in the turnover game," Beveridge said.
"He hasn't played much footy, he's had one full session and one practice match, which was eight and 12-minute periods - it's not a great preparation going into a final.
"I think everyone's got to understand what the situation is. If we pick Stefan we're taking a big risk, I'm not saying we won't, there's a chance we might.
"If we feel that Stef hasn't done the yards and won't be able to get there for the full four quarters, then most likely he won't be in the team."
The Dogs will be without defensive duo Hayden Crozier (concussion) and Ed Richards (shoulder) for Sunday's clash at the University of Tasmania Stadium after the pair suffered injuries in a scratch-match against Sydney over the weekend.