The Western Bulldogs’ strong start to the year has been given a vote of confidence by 2014 best and fairest winner Tom Liberatore, who has re-signed with the AFL club until at least 2018.

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The 22-year-old’s 2015 season ended before it began after he suffered a major knee injury during the NAB challenge in February.

But the emerging midfielder was happy with what he had seen from the seventh-placed Bulldogs and was pleased to extend his deal.

“It means a lot to me and obviously a great time for the club and yeah it’s good to be around a good group of young players and moving forward in the right way,” Liberatore told the team’s website.

“With a lot of young players re-signing it shows that the morale of the group is in a good spot, the chemistry with everyone’s very positive and the way that the boys get along as a group reflects our performance on the field I think.”

Liberatore joins Jake Stringer, Jackson Macrae, Easton Wood, Luke Dahlhaus and Jordan Roughead in recommitting to the Bulldogs this year.

He says the rehab for his knee injury is going well and he has been spending a lot of time around the VFL setup, trying to gain a further insight in to game management and the tactical side of football.

Western Bulldogs list manager Jason McCartney said Liberatore’s re-signing was great news for the club.

“Tom is an incredibly talented young player and is such a crucial part of our midfield and team in general,” McCartney said.

“Tom is universally liked and respected around the club and we look forward to having him back in the team next season.”

Liberatore has played 77 AFL games for Western Bulldogs after being taken as a father-son selection in the 2010 draft.