Western Bulldogs recruit Alex Keath and young gun Aaron Naughton are expected to return to full training in a month following post-season surgery.
The Bulldogs acquired Keath in the last hour of October’s trade period, sending Pick 45 and a future second-round pick to Adelaide in exchange for the star defender and a future third-round selection.

The 27-year-old underwent surgery to repair a stress fracture in his lower leg before he was traded to Whitten Oval, after medical examinations at the Western Bulldogs and St Kilda found a crack in his shin, revealing more extensive damage than the Crows first thought.

Keath has started running again and will commence training with his new teammates early in the New Year, although he won’t be rushed to return given the nature of his injury.

Second-year sensation Naughton is also expected to start training with the main group midway through January, after avoiding a serious knee injury in September.

The 20-year-old escaped an anterior cruciate ligament tear when his leg buckled beneath him in the elimination final loss to Greater Western Sydney, but still required surgery to repair the lateral ligament in his left knee.

After finishing fourth in the Sutton Medal in a sparkling debut season playing down back, Naughton starred at the other end of the ground in 2019, booting 32.27 and averaging 5.7 marks from 23 appearances.

Both Keath and Naughton could return to full training when the Western Bulldogs hold their pre-season camp on the Sunshine Coast next month.

New vice-captain Lachie Hunter underwent a shoulder reconstruction at the end of the season and is set to return to full contact training in the second half of January.

Mitch Wallis – another member of a new-look leadership led by new skipper Marcus Bontempelli – hasn’t missed a beat so far this pre-season after missing the entire second half of the season due to a stress fracture in his foot.

The 27-year-old didn’t play a senior game after Round 10 but wasn’t ruled out until the closing rounds of the home and away season.

Inside midfielder Tom Liberatore also missed the final month of the season after undergoing an arthroscope on his right knee.

The Sutton Medallist is not expected to return to full training until the start of February.