BALLARAT, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 19: Caleb Daniel (left) and Josh Dunkley of the Bulldogs celebrates during the 2017 AFL round 22 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Port Adelaide Power at Mars Stadium on August 19, 2017 in Ballarat, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media/Getty Images)

The Western Bulldogs are expecting Essendon to renew their interest in gun midfielder Josh Dunkley come season’s end.

Last trade period, Dunkley requested a trade to Essendon but the Bulldogs were adamant they would not be letting the 24-year-old depart Whitten Oval.

As it happens, Dunkley remained in the blue, white and red and has been stellar so far this season as the Dogs cruise to a 4-0 start.

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But the saga seems set to reignite in the 2021 trade period with Western Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains telling SEN he expects the Bombers to come again.

“Absolutely, and potentially other clubs too,” he told SEN Mornings.

“I think from Essendon’s point of view, they were able to get Josh to want to come and play for their football club, and obviously it didn’t come to fruition.

“We expect them to come again, whether or not they do is their prerogative.”

Baines said that the Bulldogs’ position hadn’t changed from last season and they still see Dunkley as a required player.

“Josh is contracted until the end of 2022 and we were really adamant that we didn’t want to lose him for so many reasons,” he said.

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“Again, while it’s only a small sample size at the start of this year, I think it shows how valuable he is to us as a footy club – both on-field and as a person.

“We won’t be letting him walk out the door at the end of this year. We don’t think that he’s in that frame of mind in any event.

“He and Adam (Treloar) have become particularly close but he’s got many, many close mates at the footy club, including the captain himself (Marcus Bontempelli).

“Hopefully last year was a bit of a blip and Josh enjoys a long, productive and successful career at the Bulldogs.”

Last year the Bombers offered one first-round pick for Dunkley, specifically pick 7, which wasn’t enough to please the Dogs.

The Bombers of course had two other top 10 picks and they are unlikely to hold such a powerful draft hand at the end of 2021.