READY TO BARK: Local AFL product and young Bulldogs star Paul O’Shea returns to his former stomping ground at the Rockhampton Cricket Grounds this week.
READY TO BARK: Local AFL product and young Bulldogs star Paul O’Shea returns to his former stomping ground at the Rockhampton Cricket Grounds this week.

O'Shea closer to AFL debut

RISING Rockhampton AFL star Paul O'Shea is still a young pup at the Western Bulldogs but he is facing a make-or-break season in 2009.

O'Shea returned to Melbourne yesterday to continue his injury rehabilitation at Whitten Oval after a quick trip back to CQ to visit family and friends.

The talented athlete, who turns 20 on Sunday, is recovering from hip surgery which is expected to sideline him for the first three months of this year's AFL premiership.

O'Shea played in the Bulldogs' opening NAB Cup pre-season match against Essendon before the club bit the bullet and sent the young defender in for surgery for an ongoing hip complaint.

"I've had it probably since I got drafted and I was going to play the season out but it got to the stage where I was taking too many pain-killers before games and training," said O'Shea, who was the bolter in the 2006 AFL draft when picked at No. 76 as a development player.

"The actual bone in the socket, there was a bit in there which shouldn't be, like a spur, and it was cutting when I was doing certain movements.

"At first doctors said 12 to 14 weeks and I was meant to be on crutches for four weeks, but that's already been shortened to two weeks, so I'm two weeks ahead of schedule straight off get go."

Now in his third season at the Bulldogs, O'Shea has been earmarked by coach Rodney "Rocket" Eade for senior football in 2009.

O'Shea, who is off-contract at the end of the year, said the prospect of making his AFL debut was exciting and admitted it was "make-or-break" when he returns from injury.

"Going into my third year, I haven't played a senior game yet but hopefully at the end of this year I can try and do that," he said.

"Hopefully I can get back to the last 10 to 12 games and show them what I've got and hopefully they like what they still see and I'll be there for a few more years.

"When I first got drafted I was taken as a five-year player, that's how long they assumed it would take and it still might take that long."


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