Fremantle will avoid giving Michael Barlow a recovery timeline as he works his way back from a broken left leg, but the club is happy with the midfielder’s progress more than four months after his debut 2010 season ended abruptly.

Barlow joined Fremantle’s first- to fourth-year players for the official start to pre-season training on Monday, taking part in stationary handball drills and walking laps.

The 22-year-old, who was joined by Roger Hayden and Hayden Ballantyne in the rehabilitation group, has already done some running as part of his recovery, but football manager Chris Bond said the young star would not be rushed.

“We don’t want to put any pressure on him – we’re not going to give him any dates or any times we want him to come back,” Bond said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.

“He’s been moving around on the leg fine and we’ve said all along we won’t rush him.

“We see Mick as a long-term player at our footy club … we’re really happy with his progress.”

Bond said the club was hopeful Barlow would be taking part in full kicking and running drills “sooner rather than later”, but it was too early to tell if he would be available for round one of the 2011 season.

“Once he starts getting out and doing pre-season, and full pre-season, then we look at it and monitor it,” Bond said.

“He’d like to get out there and start kicking a ball [but] it’s something that’ll just be monitored week by week.”

Roughly 30 Fremantle players started pre-season training on Monday, including trade week acquisitions Peter Faulks, Tendai Mzungu and Jon Griffin, and former Magpie John Anthony.

Midfielder Rhys Palmer led the 3km time trial, while Mzungu, Nat Fyfe, Zac Clarke and rookie Clancee Pearce were impressive rounding out the top five.

Bond said the club was pleased with Palmer’s progress after suffering a serious knee injury in 2009 and he was confident the 21-year-old would improve in 2011.

“People have spoken a bit about Rhys’ year as being disappointing [but] we’re actually quite pleased with how he came back from his knee operation,” Bond said.

“It’s a significant injury for a young player to come back from.

“He’s progressing really well and we think he’ll keep improving from this year.”

Hayden made an early return to pre-season training sporting a protective brace on his left foot, but Bond said the defender had not needed surgery during the off-season.

“Roger had some foot injuries that we picked up and it’s probably just making sure, it’s very precautionary at his age and making sure he can get through pre-season,” Bond said.

“In regards to Hayden Ballantyne, he’s had a couple of interrupted pre-seasons, so we just want to make sure that we monitor him carefully.

“We don’t think they’re going to have significant interruptions to their pre-seasons.”

Bond confirmed that assistant Todd Curley will take over defensive duties from new Geelong coach Chris Scott, while senior development coach Simon Lloyd will be the club’s forward line coach.

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