UPDATE 2.30pm: FREMANTLE has declared Michael Barlow’s surgery a success and say he is a strong chance to play next season after recovering from a broken leg.

The Fremantle midfielder snapped the tibia and fibula bones in the leg after a sickening collision with teammate Rhys Palmer in the Dockers’ 57-point win against Port Adelaide on Saturday.

Barlow, 22, had surgery yesterday and titanium rods were inserted in the bones.

Fremantle football manager Chris Bond said today the 22-year-old was in good spirits after the operation but would stay in hospital for at least a few more days.

“From a medical feedback (point of view), the operation went really well. It’s a clean break,” Bond said.

“The break is higher up in the leg, which is a positive thing.

“We’re waiting to see just exactly when he’ll get out, but we think it will be in the next few days.

“He’s had some wonderful messages and support from people all through Australia, a lot of people and players from other clubs as well.

“He’s just so appreciative of the people who’ve been in touch with him.

“His main focus now is to make sure he’s pain free and make sure he gets through the next few days and then we’ll take it from there.”

Barlow has been this season’s Cinderella story, since he debuted as a mature-age recruit in Round 1 against Adelaide and collected 33 possessions. His spectacular form saw him tumble from a $1001 chance to $9 second favourite for the Brownlow Medal.

Teammate Ryan Crowley said Barlow’s injury had stunned the Dockers. But if anyone could come back, it was Barlow, he said.

“It’s a funny feeling,” Crowley said. “I’ve never been in changerooms after a win that’ve been so sombre,” Crowley said.

“Me and Rhys (Palmer) went through a similar thing last year for the majority of the season, and its really tough to go through.

“I know the character that he’s got. He’ll come back bigger and better. He works so hard, a really good fella and he prepares himself so well, which is why I know he’ll come back.”

Dockers coach Mark Harvey said Barlow was a huge loss.

“He’s been a unique player for us this year,” Harvey said. “We’ll obviously have some players coming back for us over the next couple of weeks, but whether they have the impact that Michael has remains to be seen.”

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