Two-straight defeats and two key players facing multiple weeks on the sidelines - it's been a frustrating two weeks for BFNL club Golden Square.
On the back of losses to Sandhurst and Strathfieldsaye, the Bulldogs are likely to be without inter-league representative Liam Barrett for the best part of two months after he suffered a broken jaw against the Storm.
In-form defender Liam Duguid suffered a grade one hamstring strain in the same game.
"Liam (Barrett) went to Melbourne on Saturday night after the game and was operated on on Sunday,'' Golden Square coach Christian Carter said.
"He was very unlucky. It was just a clash of heads, there was no malice in the incident or anything like that.
"They're saying if you can have a good break it was a good break, but it looks like he'll probably miss six to eight weeks."
Barrett's absence leaves a hole across half-back for the Bulldogs, while he's also been used in midfield rotations.
"We really missed him when he went off on Saturday,'' Carter said.
"He's our general across half-back and he sets up a lot of forward thrusts for us.
"We'll have to find someone else to step up and play that role for us now."
Duguid has made a strong impression in his first season with Square.
The small defender had the task of stopping Storm star Lachlan Sharp on Saturday.
"Liam's last two games were really good and up until he was injured on Saturday he'd done a great job on (Lachlan) Sharp,'' Carter said.
"We're going to miss him down back."
A fortnight ago the Bulldogs were undefeated and sitting pretty at the top of the table.
Now they've slipped to fourth place and two games behind leaders Sandhurst and South Bendigo.
"We're still really positive even though we lost those two games,'' Carter said.
"We've had a pretty tough run and I have to keep reminding myself that we have such a young squad with an average age of about 23.
"We've played some inconsistent footy and you're going to get that with a young squad.
"We've got a few games in the coming weeks where we can iron out some things that we need to work on."
One of those areas is the Bulldogs' starts to matches.
In the losses to Sandhurst and Strathfieldsaye the Bulldogs fell behind in the first half before making a surge in the final terms.
"We need to start with some more intensity and effort early and, hopefully, get some scoreboard pressure early in the game,'' Carter said.
"We missed some easy shots early in both games that could have changed the dynamic a bit.
"If you go into quarter-time with the lead then everyone is up and about and body language is up. It makes a huge difference."
The Bulldogs' next challenge is against Maryborough at Princes Park on Saturday.
The Pies play their best footy on their home deck and Carter is expecting a tough battle.
"We can't take Maryborough lightly, they're always harder to beat over there,'' Carter said.
"After losing a couple of games the boys are really keen to get back into it. We'll be ready to go."
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