GOLDEN Square coach Christian Carter is confident the Bulldogs will be able to fill their full-back vacancy from within.
Will Lee has been a key cog in the Bulldogs' defence since 2017, but is headed back to his former club Cohuna next year, needing Square to find a replacement at full-back.
"Will has been very solid for us over the past three years, but we think we have a few guys at the club who could step into that full-back role for us," Carter said on Thursday.
"Braydon Vaz has played a bit of centre half-back for us and Zack Shelton could play down there as well, so we think we'll be looking alright in defence. We've still got Jon Coe, Liam Barrett, Liam Duguid and Braydon Welsh for next year in our backline."
As well as losing Lee, the Bulldogs' departures from what would have been their team that took to the field this season are 2019 Michelsen medallist Adam Baird to Mount Pleasant, while ex-Carlton player Jaryd Cachia has signed with VAFA club St Kevin's, leaving two key holes in their midfield.
Carter is also expecting Jake Thrum to join Lee back at Cohuna after 80 senior games with the Bulldogs.
The classy Thrum - best-on-ground in Bendigo's 2019 inter-league win over Outer East - made Geelong's VFL list this year, but there was no season played.
Following the cancellation of the VFL season Thrum moved back to Bendigo and would have again lined up for Golden Square had a shortened season got a start.
Meanwhile, the versatile Liam Duguid and fellow Shepparton Bears premiership player Joel Brett, a mid-sized forward, have both re-committed to the Bulldogs off the back of the 2020 BFNL season being cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Bulldogs also have former Bendigo Pioneer Kyle Stevens returning from Merbein following a superb 2019 season in the Sunraysia league.
"Kyle is a young player who had a really good year back with Merbein in 2019 making the Sunraysia Team of the Year and playing inter-league. Hopefully, he can have another year like that for us," Carter said.
And Jack Hickman, who has had a taste of senior football with Kangaroo Flat and is on the Bendigo Pioneers' list, has crossed to Wade Street.
"Jack is a very skillful young player who is a quick wingman and is rated quite highly by the Bendigo Pioneers, so he's a good pick-up for us," Carter said.
Hickman is one of six Golden Square players who are on the Pioneers' under-19 list, along with Ricky Monti, Jack Stewart, Zavier Murley, Brodie James and Oscar Hocking.
The Bulldogs will kick off their pre-season training next week.
"We've been meeting up on Fridays for a few weeks just to have a bit of a kick around and catch-up. It hasn't been compulsory, but we'll get into it properly from next Wednesday," Carter said.
Carter is a newly-appointed coach of the Bulldogs, who takes the reins from Bernie Haberman.
Carter coached the Bulldogs' reserves to the 2015 flag and is a four-time senior premiership player with the club.
He's one of two new senior coaches in the BFNL for next year along with Kyneton's Paul Chapman.
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