Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has defended under-fire midfielder Bailey Smith, stating members of the media are harming the young onballer who is currently battling illness.

Smith was kept to 11 disposals in last Friday's loss to Collingwood - his lowest tally since Round 5, 2020 when he suffered a head knock and was unable to see out a game against North Melbourne. Only twice prior to that game had Smith recorded under 11 possessions in a match, both instances coming during his debut season at Whitten Oval.

The flashy midfielder averaged 29.12 possessions last year, but has failed to acclimatise to a new role that sees the 22-year-old rotate through the forward half of the field, where Beveridge hopes he can have an impact on the scoreboard.

Smith has attended an average of 6.33% of centre bounce contests in his past three games due to a midfield shuffle under Beveridge, with that rate set at 54% in 2022.

The onballer's struggles to have the same impact in a new role has led to critics questioning Beverdige's plans to get the best out of Smith, with some even calling for the club to potentially look at moving Smith to a new club.

While understanding the challenges that Smith is facing, Beveridge has come to the defence of his young star, stating speculation is only doing more harm than good for the former top 10 draft pick and that discussions to trade Smith are "disrespectful".

"I've been made aware this morning of some of the conversation through different media circles around 'Baz' and his current form line and how he's going in the scheme of things. There's a couple of things there," Beveridge told reporters on Tuesday.

"When you reflect on the impact he's had in the game, when he's been at the top of his game and when he's been fully fit we all see the potential of a young man who should be a really influential player in the competition.

"He's had some real challenges. He's had some injury, obviously had some time out of the game, and he's been quite open with his mental health side of it.

"All we've ever done here is look after Bailey and even yesterday him and I and our communications were in a really good place, and so if there's speculation around these things, if media want to drum that up, what you're not doing is looking after Bailey Smith.

"We're hoping that, whether it's this year or into next year, that he finds his way to his absolute best and we're just going to help him and we believe he can get there.

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

"Speculation around whether or not he should be at another club or not is just disrespectful. We've got a really good track record here with our players and our program."

Smith has been battling with an illness in recent days and is no certainty of suiting up for the Dogs in Thursday's clash with Sydney at the SCG. The bug is understood to have impacted Smith prior to last week's two-goal loss to the Magpies and is still impacting the midfielder.

Beveridge said Smith was keen to face Collingwood despite the ailment and will be looking to do the same if he can train throughout the coming days.

"He's had a few (niggles) and still has. Post-game he was sick," Beveridge revealed. "He wasn't in early in the week because he's been ill.

"He was ill leading into the game so he wasn't feeling his best but he wanted to play.

"All these things that people aren't aware of... if you haven't got the information you don't know the facts. All you do is do harm.

"I'm hoping he's going to be able to train today and he'll give a good account of himself and represent the club in Sydney on Thursday night."

The Western Bulldogs will travel to Sydney this week to face the Swans on their home deck at 7:20pm (AEST).