Hard-nosed Bulldog midfielder Tom Liberatore has been cleared to continue playing football by specialists, with the club expecting a return within the next three weeks.

Liberatore suffered two concussions in relatively quick succession earlier this season, raising concerns over his future wellbeing and immediate playing future.

Disturbing footage of the player struggling to keep his footing against the Bombers and streaming blood from the forehead against Hawthorn surrounded the two incidents and signalled to the club toward a temporary break from action for their star midfielder.

Fortunately he has been cleared by specialists to resume playing in 2024 and the Dogs hope to see a return in the coming weeks, according to Bulldogs Head of Sports Medicine, Chris Bell.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 21: Tom Liberatore of the Bulldogs handballs while being tackled by Michael Frederick of the Dockers during the round six AFL match between Fremantle Dockers and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium, on April 21, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

"We have continued to be very diligent and thorough in our processes for assessing and managing Tom following his most recent concussion in Round 8,” Bell said.

“This has involved specialist review and opinion to help guide his return to play planning.

“In some great news, after some reassuring results, we have a devised a structured return to play plan, that if everything goes well, will see Tom returning to play across the next 2-3 weeks."

Unfortunately the Bulldogs will be without another two key coggs for a critical portion of the season, with defenders Jason Johannisen and Ryan Gardner suffering injuries that will see them sidelined through the Round 15 bye and even beyond.

Johanissen was absent in the win over GWS on Saturday after straining a hamstring in training last Thursday.

The club expect him to miss at least another four weeks, with scans revealing a moderate-grade strain.

“Jason was running at speed and went to change direction and slipped on the wet ground at training last week,” Bell said.

“This has caused him to overstretch his hamstring and suffer a moderate grade hamstring strain.

“At this stage I anticipate that JJ will miss the next 4-5 weeks with this injury.”

Key back Ryan Gardner will miss even more footy after damaging his wrist in a marking contest, with an immediate estimate of three months on the sidelines.

“Ryan innocuously punched a footy which ruptured a key structural ligament in his wrist,” Bell added.

"This injury will not heal with conservative management, with Ryan needing surgery to reconstruct the damaged ligament.

“We will confirm Ryan's rehab plan following the surgery but expect him to miss at least the next three months.“

With a four week stretch against flag favourite Sydney and reigning premier Collingwood before Brisbane and Fremantle, it is a devastating time for the Bulldogs to be losing important troops, having only just moved past their early season pressure period following their disappointing loss to Hawthorn.

Thursday's clash proves pivotal for the Bulldogs' 2024 expectations and chances, facing a red-hot Swans side fresh off their dismantlement of a fellow flag fancy in Carlton.

Marvel Stadium

The absence of Liberatore and Johannisen in particular dent the Bulldogs hopes of producing an upset, but sitting just a game and a half from 5th place on the ladder, the motivation to do so will be strong at the kennel.