Dogs' Naughton right to go for AFL finals

Key forward Aaron Naughton has been cleared to play in the Western Bulldogs' AFL elimination final.
Key forward Aaron Naughton has been cleared to play in the Western Bulldogs' AFL elimination final.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has declared key forward Aaron Naughton fit to play in the club's AFL elimination final.

The high-flying Naughton underwent cheekbone surgery after copping a knock in the Dogs' final home-and-away encounter against Fremantle.

But the week off before finals will ensure the 20-year-old lines up against St Kilda at the Gabba next Saturday.

"Naughts will be fine to play. He's a bit out of sync now because he had the surgery but he'll train with the group on Monday and have a week together with the whole squad," Beveridge told reporters on Saturday.

Fellow forward Mitch Wallis is "almost a certainty" to take on the Saints despite issues with his shoulder.

Beveridge said Wallis was feeling "upbeat" and trained on Saturday.

Their availability will be vital as the Dogs aim to avoid a first-week finals exit for the second year in a row.

Their brutal end to last season, at the hands of a rampant and aggressive GWS by 58 points, is still fresh in Beveridge's mind.

"When you think back to that final it was a bit extreme," Beveridge said.

"It's a credit to the GWS outfit to do what they did and they almost won the whole thing of that template.

"I think it's just having an awareness of how extreme the physical challenge of the game may be."

The game will be played on neutral territory, but the Saints have had plenty of practice on the ground which will host this year's grand final.

St Kilda have played on the Gabba six times this year, while the Dogs' only appearance was a 24-point loss to the Brisbane Lions in round 11.

Australian Associated Press