FREMANTLE’S injury-hit defence should be boosted by Luke McPharlin this week, but doubts linger over the fitness of key pair Chris Tarrant and Greg Broughton ahead of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at Subiaco Oval.

Antoni Grover (hamstring), Broughton (hamstring) and Tarrant, who has been struggling with a heel injury, all left the track on Wednesday morning during a training session at the WACA ground.

Fremantle is expecting a host of players to return across the next two weeks – including Nat Fyfe (concussion) and Chris Mayne (ankle) – but coach Mark Harvey said the club would be cautious with those that have missed extended periods.

Broughton has not played since round eight after suffering a hamstring injury in the WAFL as he returned from a foot complaint, while Tarrant has missed two matches. 

Grover and Fyfe have missed one match each, while Mayne last played against Adelaide in round 11.

“I’d like to think that they’ll all be coming back, now the interesting part for us is getting the balance right,” Harvey said on Wednesday morning.

“I’d say this week McPharlin; maybe Grover, Broughton, Fyfe. Tarrant and Mayne aren’t too far away.

“We’ve got to look at how long they’ve missed for a start and a guy like for instance Tarrant, who’s only missed a couple of weeks (and) who’s played the majority of the season, wont be an issue. But the guys who have been out for sustained periods we’re going to really have to look at.”

McPharlin injured his knee against Collingwood in round eight, but Harvey said the key defender had been in a heavy training phase for three weeks, which would help his cause at selection.      

“It’s not as if he’s only been training for a week or two on the track,” the coach said “His injury has been completed a lot earlier than what we would have thought from a training load point of view.”

In losing to Richmond last Saturday night, Fremantle gave up a two-game buffer in fourth spot, but Harvey said the side did not have one eye on a top-four showdown with the Western Bulldogs next week.

The coach said Melbourne, particularly in-form ruckman Mark Jamar and a host of highly-touted young midfielders, required the side’s full attention this week.     

“(It’s) a young midfield they’ve got and we’ve got an evolving midfield, so we would have liked to say that that’ll be an interesting aspect of the game,” Harvey said.

“Jamar’s had a fantastic year for them, so they’ll be coming off the game with a lot of confidence after the way they beat Essendon last week.

“They’ve got a different dimension to their forward line at the moment with (Colin) Sylvia and (Liam) Jurrah, [and] their defence has been quite good. They’re a young defence that is evolving and appear to have a lot of resilience about keeping the opposition down to a low score.”

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