JINDERA is likely to be without inspirational coach Josh Walker for the remainder of the season.
In a savage blow to the Bulldogs’ finals aspirations, Walker has been ruled out with complications from a fractured kneecap suffered in round two.
Walker initially hoped to miss three months but scans last week revealed the injury hadn’t healed as well as expected.
“I took an optimistic view and hoped I could get back this season but it looks like being a 12-month injury,” Walker said.
“It just hasn’t come along the way we wanted it to and now the surgeon wants to have a look at it and see if anything is causing it not to heal like it should.”
In a further blow, Dean McLaren looks likely to undergo a second knee reconstruction inside 12 months after going down against Howlong last week.
It was only McLaren’s second senior match after a reconstruction last season.
The premiership wingman injured his left knee, after doing his right knee last year.
Widely touted as a premiership threat at the start of the season, the Bulldogs sit sixth with a 6-5 record.
They need several big scalps in the countdown to finals to remain inside the top six, with matches against premiership contenders Osborne, Brock-Burrum and Henty to come.
Walker said talk the Bulldogs were in their premiership window was premature.
“Where we are on the ladder is about right,” he said.
“A few of the supporters and some of the players probably had higher expectations after The Border Mail tipped us to win the flag.
“Realistically we were six to eight goals inferior to the top-four sides last season.
“So to try and close that gap in one season would take a huge turnaround.
“Yes, we recruited fairly well, but Ash Murray has struggled with injury and form and then Brett Garland left with work commitments.
“That was our leading goalkicker and our best and fairest winner from last year gone and they kicked over 100 goals between them.
“So obviously it has left a huge hole to fill with myself not playing and Michael Bain also missing with a broken leg.”
Jindera will celebrate NAIDOC on Saturday, with both the Bulldogs and Osborne wearing specially designed Aboriginal-themed guernseys.
Both guernseys were designed by local Aboriginal artist Darren Wighton.
Each year the National NAIDOC Committee comes up with a theme, with this year being “Serving Country: Centenary and Beyond”, which is all about paying homage to the Aboriginal men and women who have served in defence of the country and to those who are currently serving.