Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli has revealed he recently underwent a procedure on his ankle after a return to training this off-season, however the Dogs star isn't expected to see his pre-season plans impacted by the concern.
The five-time Charles Sutton Medal winner enjoyed arguably the best season of his established career in 2023, finishing second in the Brownlow Medal and claiming the AFLPA MVP Award to go with his fifth All-Australian selection.
The Dogs themselves couldn't conjure a top eight finish however, leaving Bontempelli and the Footscray faithful disappointed given the level of talent on Luke Beveridge's list.
Now turning their attention to the pre-season, where Bulldogs players will make their return to training at Whitten Oval on November 27, the blue, red and white side will be hopeful their contention for the 2024 premiership begins from this month.
For Bontempelli, a recent "cleanout" of his ankle has left him requiring crutches, however the 27-year-old is hoping to be back walking as early as this week.
Speaking on SEN, the Bulldogs superstar revealed he underwent a procedure on a troublesome ankle after swelling and warning signs arose from a recent return to training.
"Just to ease everyone's tensions and concerns, (I had) just a little ankle cleanout. So got through the season and whatnot pretty good and just had my break," Bontempelli explained.
"Started to train and noticed a few little signs and a bit of swelling, it was a little bit angry post-session, so coming back from my little off-season trip we just decided it was better to act now and avoid pushing it into the pre-season and season.
"Should still be well and truly on track to get things going once we're back. No big concern here. Just got to act sooner rather than later, move past it and get going."
2024 will be Bontempelli's 11th season with the Bulldogs and fifth as captain of the club, with the prolific ball-winner well aware of the standards his side will need to reach to make a return to September.
The Eltham junior said the club fell well below expectations this year, with more wins and greater consistency the aim for 2024.
"More wins is where it simply starts. There's no doubt we fell short," Bontempelli said.
"Probably in a couple of games this year they were close, could've gone either way and we probably couldn't play out lasting sort of moments as well as we would've liked.
"We're probably looking for a little bit more consistency across the board. We had some really solid contributions from a really good portion of players, but we probably haven't been able to find the most we can out of the whole squad at different points.
"You're always searching for consistency. You look at the best teams, right through the season they get that consistent output from player one to player 23 from game to game. We probably weren't able to put that together long enough.
"We've got the mix there, it's just about how we execute better."
The Bulldogs recorded 12 wins and 11 losses this year to finish ninth on the ladder and two points outside of the finals bracket.