MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 15: Tom Liberatore of the Bulldogs runs with the ball during a Western Bulldogs AFL training session at Whitten Oval on July 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Tom Liberatore has returned to pre-season training in great condition following an underwhelming 2017 season according to teammate Marcus Bontempelli.

Liberatore was under intense scrutiny last year after returning from premiership celebrations to average a career-low 17.2 disposals a game, including 10 contested possessions a game, which is 4.5 below his career-best.

The Bulldogs are hoping the tough midfielder, who was instrumental in their drought-breaking flag, can return to his best in 2018.

Bontempelli says Liberatore’s “going well” and performing strongly on the training track.

“He seems to have responded quite well to some of the criticism he faced last year,” Bontempelli told SEN Breakfast.

“It’s the tough challenge of constantly performing at the top level. At times you might not always get it right.

“Based on what I have seen so far in the preseason, Tom is training really well and we can’t really ask much more from him at this point in time.

“It’s great to see Tom back at the level we know he can train and play at.”

Bontempelli’s ‘Dogs slipped to 10th spot on the ladder after their breakthrough premiership, a feat Richmond will be hoping to avoid in 2018.

The silky-smooth midfielder’s advice to the Tigers was to continue to improve, avoiding any complacency with their current ways.

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“One thing would definitely be to continue to find new ways to challenge and improve your style of footy,” Bontempelli said.

“I don’t think we relaxed but we definitely weren’t as strong in some of our key areas. As we saw teams around us got better and improved, and started doing things better than we did.

“That’s the challenge is to renew your strengths and how you continue to find new ways to improve. You need to challenge the status quo.”