MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 21: Sam Docherty of the Blues looks on during a Carlton Blues AFL training session at Ikon Park on November 21, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A rollercoaster ride of ups and downs confronted the Western Bulldogs in 2022 which ended with an early finals exit at the hands of Fremantle, after sneaking into the top eight courtesy of Carlton.

After reaching the big dance the year prior, the Dogs struggled to replicate their proven formula that is modelled on consistency, despite a healthy list steering them through the majority of 2021.

With head coach Luke Beveridge guiding them into a new season, a sense of the unknown can be attached to the red, white and blue, as they look to bounce back in 2023 after a sub-par year.

The holiday period saw them lose star onballer Josh Dunkley, who requested a trade to Brisbane, whilst the Dogs welcomed key forward Rory Lobb across from the Dockers.

The swap hurts their midfield stocks with Dunkley a prized contributor in the engine room, in spite of this, with Lobb landing in their lap, it only adds to the selection dilemma in their front half.

A host of worthy tall forwards are in a healthy jostle for positions, with the coaching staff tasked with the headache-inducing role of forming a pecking order amongst the long line of candidates.

During the draft period the Dogs picked up trio Jedd Busslinger, Charlie Clarke and Harvey Gallagher, with the speedy Oskar Baker joining as a pre-season Supplemental Selection from Melbourne.

On paper, the Dogs' spine presents as sturdy as any, with the homecoming of Liam Jones heading up proceedings in his accustomed full-back role after a stint at the Blues before the introduction of COVID protocols.

Further afield, defender Alex Keath steps up as their centre half-back, whilst in their midfield department Tim English holds precedence in the rucking job over fellow tall-timbered counterpart Sam Darcy.

Captain Marcus Bontempelli will be on a rotation system forward, split with his midfield time as he plans to lead his side back into contention whilst they sit in a premiership window.

With contracts irrelevant in this exercise and the club's monetary situation thrown out the window, we look at four potential role fillers at the Dogs before honing in on a verdict to conclude.

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1. Sam Docherty

Star defender Sam Docherty looms as a target the Dogs' list management staff will be circling to snap up in this hypothetical, with the durable back man a staple piece in his current Blues back six setup.

After facing immeasurable adversity heading into last season, Docherty was an inspiration in lacing up for 22 games, earning him the Spirit of Carlton Award for his on-field efforts.

The former Brisbane Lion will slot into the Dogs' back half with ease, alleviating the weight placed on the shoulders of the ageing Keath, and forming a partnership with Jones in the process.

Beveridge's plan to move Caleb Daniel in a midfield rotation will be able to come to fruition, as the 29-year-old can adopt his role of nullifying the smalls, coupled with kick-out duty responsibilities.