Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says the club will take a conservative approach with Aaron Sandilands’ foot injury and will not guarantee that the ruckman will be back for his side’s round 20 clash with the Sydney Swans.

Sandilands has been left out of the Fremantle side to face North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and Harvey revealed on Friday morning the 122 kg ruckman had been carrying the niggling injury for the last couple of weeks.

“[His foot injury has become an issue] just over the last week or two,” Harvey admitted from Wesley College in St Kilda.

“You always have sore spots in your body from the season and it’s about identifying and knowing what it may lead to. So at this stage it’s minor.

“We’d like to think [it’s a one-week injury] but sometimes these things can drag on a little bit. The issue is if we kept pressing ahead with it then it may become a major issue, so we’re just taking a more conservative approach at this stage.”

Sandilands absence is a massive blow to Fremantle and its hopes for a top-four finish, with star defender Chris Tarrant (knee) and livewire Hayden Ballantyne (foot) also sidelined with injury.

Returning from injury is Kepler Bradley, who will share the rucking duties with defender Michael Johnson, but Harvey conceded no player could fill the void left by Sandilands. 

“There’s no other player like him in the competition I would have thought, so he’s the one we can’t necessarily replace,” Harvey said.

“We’ve got Kepler and Michael Johnson who have done a lot of rucking for us all year so we’re just probably having to going to adjust from now getting the hit-outs 70 per cent of the time to probably 50 per cent of the time.”

If Fremantle is to have any hope of securing a double chance in September it must beat North Melbourne, with the club facing top -eight contenders the Sydney Swans, Hawthorn and Carlton in the coming weeks.

With a top-four berth on the line, Harvey put his camouflage tactics to use, grabbing a sneak peek at North’s closed training session at Arden St on Thursday much to his counterpart Brad Scott’s amusement.

“I was in a khaki outfit. I was actually looking at a car and it wasn’t a Mazda,” Harvey joked.

“I just happened to look over and they were training so I just wandered across for 10 minutes to have a look and then wandered back. I thought it was an open session because there were a lot of people watching.

“I didn’t break any ethics and there wasn’t any malice in it. He [Scott] can come here and have a look now if he wants.”

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