FREMANTLE has not put a timeframe on when its most important midfielder, Michael Barlow, will return to senior football from his broken left leg.

Barlow suffered the injury when he collided with teammate Rhys Palmer in the fourth quarter of Fremantle’s 57-point win over Port Adelaide in round 14.

Elevated from Fremantle’s rookie list and relative obscurity in the VFL, Barlow’s impact in his first season had seen him enter Brownlow Medal favouritism.

With both his tibia and fibula broken, there were concerns for how the 22-year-old would recover.

Though his surgery was successful, Barlow said it was too early to say whether he could aim for round one of next season.

“We haven’t really put a timeline on when I’m going to be ready to go,” he told fremantlefc.com.au.

“It’s just all about how the bone heals. At this early stage it’s going really well and the pain … is down to a level where I can really move around pretty comfortably on the crutches for a significant amount of time.

“I’m slowly being able to do things I couldn’t do the day before. We’re just ticking boxes off as we go.

“Hopefully throughout the pre-season I’m up and running, but in saying that it’s early stages yet.”

Barlow strongly dismissed suggestions that Palmer was responsible for the incident, and said it was a classic case of two players only having eyes for the ball.

He also said Palmer, who missed the bulk of 2009 with a serious knee injury, would be a valuable mentor in his rehabilitation.

“He’s one of my really good mates, if not my best mate at the club,” Barlow said.

“I think he was really hurting and there was no reason for him to be hurting as much as he was, because it’s just one of those things that happens in footy.

“He’s been through a season-long injury with a knee reconstruction, so I think he knows just how I feel in relation to missing the rest of the season.

“As far as people blaming him, it’s rubbish.”

Barlow said he had been overwhelmed by well wishes that had come from coaches, players, media and supporters.

Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss, who broke his leg at Subiaco Oval in 1998 but returned to his best form and led his club to three premierships, was among those to contact Barlow while he was in hospital.

“I had a good 15 to 20-minute chat with him about how he’d done it at the same ground at a similar time of the year and was able to get back up and running for the next year,” Barlow said.

“But that wasn’t the main message he was getting across. He was just saying, ‘Take your time’. He gave me some things I maybe should be focusing on through the early stages of my rehab.

“To know a rival coach of our club [has me] in his thoughts is something that blew my mind.”

Barlow said he had not considered his Brownlow Medal prospects, which remain strong even though he won’t add to his 13 games.

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