ALL-AUSTRALIAN ruckman Aaron Sandilands believes Fremantle has the midfield depth to cover for injured star Michael Barlow as his side prepares to take on a resurgent Richmond at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Sandilands, who will play his 150th match this week, had formed one of the League’s most effective midfield combinations with Barlow this season and their partnership has been a key to the side’s charge up the AFL ladder.

However, with the rookie sensation sidelined after breaking his left leg against Port Adelaide last Saturday, Sandilands said Fremantle’s other midfielders would have to lift collectively.

“Whoever the coaching staff decide to play in the midfield it will be a great opportunity and I think we’re starting to get a bit of depth in there anyway,” Sandilands said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday.

“It’s a big loss losing Micky, but it gives an opportunity to someone else. I had built up a pretty good relationship with him (but) whoever steps in I know pretty well anyway.

“Byron Schammer’s been in great form for Claremont and he’s only played one game for us this year. If he gets an opportunity I reckon he’ll take the chance.

“We’ve still got guys like Dave Mundy, Rhys Palmer and Stephen Hill who are playing some great footy for us going through the midfield.”

Star full-back Chris Tarrant missed the side’s win over Port Adelaide with an achilles injury and, with Luke McPharlin (knee) and Antoni Grover (hamstring) sidelined, his availability will be crucial against the in-form Tigers.

Richmond sharpshooter Jack Riewoldt leads the Coleman Medal race with 53 goals, and he tormented the Sydney Swans’ defence last Sunday with five goals and seven marks.

Sandilands was unsure if Tarrant would be available, but said stopping Riewoldt would be a key against the Tigers, who have won four of their last five games.

“He’s been on fire. He’s kicking bags of goals, so I’m not sure who will get him, but whoever does is going to have a big challenge ahead,” Sandilands said.

“There is no easy game these days in the AFL, so we’re really looking forward to it.”

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