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Lions confident ahead of Bulldogs clash

By Jim Morton 09/06/2008 04:06:09 PM Comments (0)

Brisbane are braced for the loss of full forward Daniel Bradshaw but believe they are now equipped to overcome the blow and underline their AFL credentials against the Western Bulldogs.

The in-form Bradshaw is in serious doubt for Saturday's intriguing clash with the high-flying Bulldogs at the MCG after suffering hamstring tightness in Sunday's 22-point win over Fremantle.

His absence would take away an obvious strength from the Lions as twin towers Bradshaw (43 goals) and Jonathan Brown (36) have complemented each other brilliantly in the attacking 50.

The pair are among the top four goal kickers in the league and have been near unstoppable as Brisbane (7-4) have won their last four matches to be eying a top-four position.

With the Lions resting three defenders - Josh Drummond, Jason Roe and Ash McGrath - last week due to similar hamstring tightness against North Melbourne after an eight-day turnaround, it would surprise if Bradshaw is risked with a shorter six-day turnaround.

The improving Mitch Clark looms as a potential goal square replacement while coach Leigh Matthews also has options in teenager Lachlan Henderson or using one of his ruckmen in Jamie Charman and Matthew Leuenberger.

Co-captain Luke Power said the quality of alternatives were a far cry from the lack of options since the 2004 retirement of Alastair Lynch.

"Daniel has kicked over 40 goals this year, he's in great form and you can't replace a guy like that easily but I'm sure if he needs to be replaced someone will step up," Power said.

"I think Mitch could go down forward, I think one of the ruckman could play forward, and I think Lachie Henderson could come in and do a job.

"There's a few options there and it's something we haven't had for a few years and it's really pleasing at the moment."

The Bulldogs have their own concerns with fullback Brian Lake limping off Telstra Dome with a knee injury in the win over St Kilda but the club is optimistic of his chances.

While Bradshaw and Scott Harding (knee) appear to be casualties from the Lions' win at the Gabba, Drummond, McGrath and Roe are likely to return after being listed for tests.

After pushing joint leaders Geelong and Hawthorn close in the first seven rounds, Matthews and the Lions have embraced the challenge of proving their worth against the third-placed Bulldogs.

"We've played some pretty hard teams but our next two weeks are against the Bulldogs and Adelaide and we'll get a good form line from that," Power said.

Brisbane must break a four-game winless streak against the hard-running Bulldogs dating back to 2004.

It will be the second time they have opposed former Lion Jason Akermanis who says he's in career-best form after kicking six goals to help down St Kilda.

"Jason is a great player and he has been for a number of years and he will certainly be watched very closely next weekend," said Power.

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