Fremantle looks certain to intensify its push to retain Chris Tarrant, with the injured footballer having returned to Melbourne, where he will hold talks with his manager Paul Connors over the weekend to consider a generous two-year offer from the Dockers.

And coach Mark Harvey, who arrived in Melbourne yesterday for tomorrow’s round-19 clash with North Melbourne, has declared Tarrant a likely starter for Fremantle’s first finals appearance since 2006.

”I don’t think you’ve seen the last of him for 2010,” said Harvey of his key defender, 29, who has been sidelined with a medial ligament injury. ”We’re hopeful he’ll return this season.”

Added the club’s chief executive Steve Rosich: ”Now that Chris is injured, we’ll be stepping things up in a contractual sense. He’s out of contract but he is very confident and excited about where our club is heading and he is enjoying himself in Fremantle.

”He wants to have success here. Chris’s wife, Lauren, we know is keen to return home to Melbourne, but we are hoping that will be later rather than sooner. Chris has returned to Melbourne this week but don’t read anything into that. We have shown some leniency, as we did with Michael Barlow, who is back in Melbourne at the moment.”

Having lost Barlow for the season and Hayden Ballantyne for up to a month, Rosich spoke of the club’s expectations regarding Tarrant: ”He won’t be back for the home-and-away season but, at this stage, we are earmarking him for the first week post-home and away.”

Fremantle’s player-management boss Brad Lloyd is believed to regard Tarrant as a key ingredient to the Dockers’ ambitions for their first premiership, because of his competitiveness both on and off the field. The one-time All-Australian forward has flourished under Harvey and his senior assistant Chris Scott.

Although it has been known for some months in football circles that Tarrant’s wife is keen to return home, the player has not received firm offers outside Fremantle and would almost certainly accept significantly less money should he move back to a Melbourne-based club.

”Some very interesting discussions will take place in the short term,” Harvey said last night.

”He knows where this team is at and where it’s going and we think we can convince him to stay and we think he will be comfortable with the scenario.”

The Dockers will certainly lose another assistant coach at the end of 2010 with Dean Wallis flagging his intention to return home. Wallis has sounded out development opportunities with the AFL. Dean Solomon has already left Fremantle to join the Gold Coast’s coaching team.

The Dockers’ clash with the Kangaroos will be their last home-and-away clash in Melbourne this season.

Rosich confirmed that the club had received an unofficial assurance from the AFL that, unlike this year, the club would be fixtured to play at the MCG next year. Fremantle has requested six away games in Melbourne next year, with at least three at the MCG.

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