Dogs superstar’s season all but over before it starts after heartbreaking training mishap

Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith has almost certainly been ruled out of the 2024 AFL season after suffering an ACL tear in preseason training.

The Dogs released a statement confirming the injury on Wednesday afternoon after Smith left training in the morning, with subsequent scans confirming the worst.

ACL tears typically rule players out for nine months minimum, meaning the player would have an outside chance to make it back onto the field in 2024, though they can often take a full year’s worth of rehabilitation.

“We’re all extremely disappointed for Bailey, and empathise with him greatly,” said Western Bulldogs director of football Chris Grant via a statement.

“The entire Club will rally around him during this difficult time, as he begins his rehab journey.”

Smith is out of contract at the end of 2024 and has been the subject of speculation about a move away from the Bulldogs.

Hawthorn and Geelong have been most strongly linked to the midfielder, who endured a tough run of form midway through 2023.

It sparked fierce external criticism and a strong defence from Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.

Smith had struggled to break into a star-studded midfield boasting prolific ball-winners Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar and Jack Macrae.

Smith recently linked up with Collingwood star Nick Daicos in the United States and is one of the most marketable figures in the AFL, boasting an Instagram following of more than 340,000.

He has a strong connection to younger fans, having previously spoken about his mental health battles in the spotlight.

With AAP

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