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Ugle-Hagan 'unlikely' to face Dogs after personal break, Sanders tussling for opportunity

Jarred Cross -

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is "unlikely" to return from dealing with personal concerns with Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge saying footy is "not the priority at the moment" as the club supports their young star.

Ugle-Hagan missed last week's thumping win over St Kilda after travelling home to south-west Victoria.

Speaking post-match, Beveridge said the club would "wait and see" on his availability as he dealt with "family things".

On Wednesday, the coach wouldn't confirm if the 22-year-old would travel with the team or possibly play in a reserves scratch-match despite returning to training for the first time on the day.

"I suppose when any player just takes a little bit of time out of the game that's a difficult question to answer (if he was coping okay). So I can't really tell you exactly how he is," Beveridge said.

"In the game and the pressures of it, everyone, every player, and every club across the land is always dealing with something you know, as far as external scrutiny and the internal expectations and 'Marra is no different."

Beveridge said the key forward has endured a recent period of grieving the loss of family members which have "compounded things for him".

"We'll just look after him and hopefully he can play some footy again soon, but that's not the priority at the moment," Beveridge said.

Ugle-Hagan has received the backing of teammates in recent days.

"He's got some family things going on so he's back home now around the people that are most important for you in your life," Dogs captain Marcus Bontempelli said prior to the match with St Kilda, via Channel 7.

"Like anyone in our football team, probably across the AFL, when things pop up from time to time your best way to support them is extend an arm if they need it and obviously let him get the time that he needs.

"Hopefully he'll be back next week and playing again but family and your off-field space is really important."

Ugle-Hagan has averaged close to two goals a game from his five to start 2024.

Speaking on Wednesday, Beverdige also provided an update on draftee Rylee Beveridge after consecutive weeks of restricted playing time.

The win over the Saints came after a turbulent week for the club after a disappointing start to the season.

A 10-goal win softened some of the pressure being placed on Beveridge's job.

Sanders started the match as sub a week on from an animated reaction to being subbed off in their Friday night loss to Essendon.

Sanders, 19, was picked up with the sixth pick in last year's draft and has featured in all of the Dogs' games so far this year, to varying degrees. (Image: AAP)

Ahead of travelling west, Beveridge said the decisions came down to "pressure for spots".

"I'd love to keep rolling in and playing four minutes every week, but he's learning...the younger guys when they start at this level, It's more about what they're doing when they're not directly involved in the game...he's learning all the time about where to be whether we've got the footy or the opposition," he said.

"It's in that as to why he's come off a couple of times…and then found himself as the sub last week.

Beverdige said Sanders "gets it" despite the disappointment as he refines his craft at the top level.

"You've got to strike a balance of forcing the opportunity for a young man like Ryley - who's going to be critical for our football club in the future, and making sure you fortify your opportunity to win every week," he said.

"There's pressure on his position as well as anyone else's. So we're not just gifting the younger guys games.

"He earned his spot at the start of the year, absolutely. His preseason was outstanding. And in recent times it's come under a bit of pressure. It's probably as simple as that."


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