GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 28: Ed Richards of the Bulldogs kicks during the round 14 AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the Geelong Cats at Metricon Stadium on August 28, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Western Bulldogs defender Ed Richards has been withdrawn from the Dogs' side to play GWS on Saturday afternoon.

The 23-year-old will not make the trip to Ballarat due to illness, with fellow defender Luke Cleary taking Richards' place in coach Luke Beveridge's Round 20 team.

Richards' absence is a hefty loss for the Bulldogs, who will miss his influential rebounding ability ahead of a highly anticipated matchup against the Giants.

Prior to a recent hamstring injury, Richards was one of the best-performing half-backs across the first three months of the season, averaging 20 disposals, 417 metres gained, 6.5 intercept possessions, and 6.5 rebound 50s.

Cleary shifts to the Bulldogs' starting 22, with utility James O'Donnell added to the extended squad as an emergency.

The Western Bulldogs will meet the Giants at Mars Stadium this Saturday at 1:45 PM (AEST).