Late call on Sandi
Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands will be given until the end of the week to prove he is over a foot injury ahead of Saturday’s crunch clash with the Sydney Swans at Subiaco Oval.
Sandilands missed Fremantle’s 54-point loss to North Melbourne with a heel injury diagnosed as plantar fasciitis. He faces a fitness test on Friday, the day before a finals-shaping showdown with the seventh-placed Swans.
Fremantle, which is missing up to six of its best 22 players, is taking a cautious approach with the all-Australian ruckman, who coach Mark Harvey said would do minimal training on Wednesday.
“He’s come up quicker than we would have thought so that’s a good indication,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday.
“He won’t train today necessarily, or he’ll do minimal today and then we’ll have a look at him on Friday.
“It’s one of these difficult injuries to diagnose length and periods, if you ask him he’d be saying that he’d be playing this week.”
Fremantle will be without Hayden Ballantyne (foot), Chris Tarrant (knee), Ryan Crowley (knee) and Alex Silvagni (groin) on Saturday, while Chris Mayne is expected to resume in the WAFL after missing eight matches with an ankle injury.
Harvey said it was too early to tell exactly when key players Ballantyne and Tarrant would return, but he was confident both would be back before the finals.
Fremantle can confirm a home final if it beats the Swans on Saturday, but Harvey was wary of an opposition that has plenty to play for and said the clash would give his players an accurate reading of how they’re placed leading into September.
“There’s obviously a lot of significance to what they’re doing; Brett Kirk’s last year and Roosey’s (coach Paul Roos) last year so there’s all of that on top of where we are situated on the ladder,” he said.
“We’ve got an understanding of how important the game is. We know we’re two games ahead of them so that doesn’t mean a lot in the context of the next three rounds.
“Sometimes you need to have a really good reading of where you’re at moving into finals and that would give you a good indication based on where those teams [are] and how desperate they are from a finals aspect.”
After a third successive road defeat, Harvey said his players had been challenged this week, with a particular focus on their defensive work-rate following turnovers.
“We’ve spoken about it at length,” the coach said. “It’s our defensive transition, that’s what we’ve spoken about and that’s what we need to improve on so that’s been the focus for us.
“Effectively the Kangaroos got 485 possessions, of which a lot of it was uncontested, so that probably gives you the answer as to why we never got injured.”
Harvey said captain Matthew Pavlich, who was restricted to 13 possessions, three marks and no goals against North, was moving better in recent weeks after pushing through an ankle complaint.
The coach was coy on who would tackle in-form Swan Adam Goodes, who was well held by the injured Tarrant when the side’s met in round nine.
“Plan B,” Harvey said. “It’s too far out to let a player like Goodes know, so yeah, plan B.”