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Preview: Bulldogs vs Blues

Game Changers Update | Round 4 Carlton Media's Emily Angwin brings you all the news from Ikon Park as the Blues prepare for their Round 4 clash against Western Bulldogs.

Carlton’s AFLW Game Changers will be looking to bounce back with a win this Friday night, as they take on the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval.

The game will also be the first ever AFLW Pride Game played in support of the LGBTIQ community, with both teams wearing specially designed guernseys that will be auctioned for charity after the match.

After suffering their first loss of the season, and first ever loss at home, against Brisbane last weekend, the Blues face a crucial game against a Bulldogs side also coming off of a loss.

Those results have the two clubs as part of a five-team tie on top of the ladder, which makes this a potentially season-defining matchup.

Carlton will be forced to field an understrength side, with Tayla Harris (suspension), Lauren Brazzale (shoulder) and Georgia Gee (concussion) all ruled out.

With no obvious replacement for Harris up forward or for injured captain Bri Davey down back, the Blues will need multiple players to step up and do their part.

Nicola Stevens will look to continue her excellent 2018 form. (Photo: AFL Photos)

Harris’ suspension will place plenty of pressure on Darcy Vescio’s shoulders up forward, but after a promising outing last week she should be up for the challenge.

They’ll need their in-form players to continue to shine, with a heavy workload expected for stand-in skipper Sarah Hosking and fellow senior players Nicola Stevens and Shae Audley.

Senior coach Damien Keeping returns from illness this week, and it will be interesting to see how he shuffles his line-up throughout the night to cover for his missing superstars.

The Bulldogs have a very similar form guide to the Blues, with two strong wins to open the season followed by a tough loss against Adelaide last week.

They have also suffered a heavy injury toll, with captain and star forward Katie Brennan (ankle) in doubt for the rest of the season.

That blow comes just one week after 2017 number one pick Isabel Huntington ruptured her ACL and was ruled out for the year.

Despite those losses, the Bulldogs still have plenty of star power, with Emma Kearney and Ellie Blackburn both inside the top ten in the competition for disposals.

Their forward line should struggle against a strong Carlton defence, with their two leading goal kickers both out injured. That, combined with Harris’ absence for the Blues, means the game could be decided by the midfield battle.

Last time the two teams met was in round five last season, where the Game Changers claimed a tight six-point win at Ikon Park. Despite the many absentees for both sides this time around, they should be able to take some confidence from that result.

Carlton shook off their away-game hoodoo earlier this year, as they won their first game away from Ikon Park in round two. It will take a huge effort to make it two in a row on the road, but the girls will certainly be up for the challenge.