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Western Bulldogs, Liam Jones, retirement, Covid, vaccination, policy, refusal, Carlton Blues, Chris Grant, Luke Beveridge

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says his club is “vigilant” in efforts to improve their list but will not mince words as the club pursues anti-vaccine campaigner Liam Jones.

Bulldogs football manager Chris Grant has reportedly met with Jones, who is out of contract at Carlton this season after refusing to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

The AFL ended its mandatory vaccination mandate last week, leaving Jones, 31, free to return in 2023 and Essendon is understood to be one of the clubs interested in his services.

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Jones, who played in Queensland with Palm Beach-Crumbin, began his career with the Bulldogs in 2010, but Beveridge said he would not comment on any players the club is pursuing.

“You know Liam’s manager lives a few doors down from Chris Grant so he saw someone walk into the manager’s and assumed it was Grant’s place,” Beveridge said of the report meeting.

“If I have any players that can be bought, I always keep quiet during the year out of respect for our own playing group. From a list management point of view, I always keep quiet about any crossovers or anything in the pipeline.

But Beveridge said the Bulldogs could be looking for a key defender like Jones ahead of next season.

“Be sure to be proactive behind the scenes about what we can do at the end of the year and even now, but I don’t want to be specific around the needs,” he said.

Clark to Russ? Gill was fried 02:52

There are a lot of suggestions for how we can improve our team and you’d think we might be thinking along the same lines.

The Bulldogs will welcome back both star forward Aaron Newton and key midfielder Lachie Hunter for Saturday’s game against Melbourne.

The pair will train on Thursday to show off their fitness after beating Covid and Beveridge said the week off would benefit Naughton in particular.

“He’s played every game and you see it week in and week out with the bandage on his knee,” Beveridge said.

“Some knocks but it’s coming up. Hope, a little refreshed.”

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