Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has stated that while he hopes midfielder Bailey Smith will be at the Kennel beyond this year, he isn't holding expectations of the unsigned star recommitting to the club amid fears of "astronomical" rivals offers.

Smith is expected to have interest from several Victorian rivals as he weighs up a decision on his future beyond the 2024 season - which he will miss in its entirety due to an ACL injury sustained in the pre-season.

Collingwood, Geelong, and Hawthorn have each been tied to the 23-year-old, who could fill a larger role in another side's engine room given the star-studded crop of onballers who call Whitten Oval home.

His coach is crossing his fingers that Smith decides to stay with the club that called his name with the seventh overall pick in 2018, but "wouldn't say expect" to his chances of remaining in the blue, white and red.

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

Speaking on Talking Footy this week, Beveridge said Smith 'may not be able to knock back' some of the significant offers that come his way this year, with the Dogs continuing to pitch their own case in contract negotiations.

"I hope he is. I wouldn't say expect," Beveridge said when questioned on whether he expects Smith to be a Bulldog next year.

"I think he's got a lot to work through. We haven't got our head in the sand, we know there's a number of clubs who Bailey appeals to.

"We're working behind the scenes to make sure he's able to come back fit, healthy and strong first and foremost. Secondary to that, I know he feels he's a significant part of the football club.

"It's just that in the market and in the short space of time the playing group have to work within, if there's a club or two or three that come to him with an astronomical deal, he may not be able to knock it back.

"There's obviously stories about players sacrificing some of that to stay in an environment, we'll work with him on his thought processes around that."

Smith isn't the only trade piece the Dogs will likely deal with come the off-season, with ruck-forward Rory Lobb expected to seek a move to a fourth club after falling out of favour at selection in 2024.

Lobb joined the Bulldogs on a four-year deal at the end of 2022 and has struggled to cement his place under Beveridge in his second season at the club, with emerging tall Sam Darcy going past him as the third tall forward option.

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 26: Buldogs senior coach, Luke Beveridge speaks to Rory Lobb of the Bulldogs during the round 24 AFL match between Geelong Cats and Western Bulldogs at GMHBA Stadium, on August 26, 2023, in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

The former Fremantle and GWS key position talent is in line to earn a spot in Beveridge's side against Collingwood on Friday as spearhead Aaron Naughton begins his rehabilitation for a knee injury that will have him sidelined for up to six weeks.

Beveridge told reporters this week that an embarrassed Lobb fronted his senior coach after a report revealed the veteran's plans to find a new club this year despite his contract status for 2026.

"He's looking at me as though he's walked into the principal's office... he was quite apologetic and embarrassed by it," Beveridge said. "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."

The Western Bulldogs are seeking their third win in four weeks when they front the Magpies at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

 2024-05-31T09:40:00Z 
Bulldogs WON BY 18 POINTS
Marvel Stadium
COLL   
82
FT
100
   WB