Michael Barlow’s first year in the AFL was certainly a rollercoaster ride.
 
Having started the season as a rookie, Barlow was elevated onto Fremantle’s senior list before its round one clash with Adelaide.
 
And the many Toyota AFL Dream Team coaches certainly took notice, as more than 80 per cent of them snapped up the boy from Shepparton at the bargain-basement price of $105,800.
 
Barlow rewarded them by picking up 33 possessions, booting two goals and accumulating 126 Dream Team points against the Crows.
 
He was consistently among Fremantle’s best players during the first 13 matches, averaging almost 110 points per game, including a highest score of 146 against Collingwood at Subiaco in round eight.

But in round 14, by which time his value had soared to $454,600, he broke his leg in a collision with teammate Rhys Palmer and was ruled out for the rest of the season.
 
As a result, Barlow presents Dream Team coaches with a dilemma this year.
 
The first thing to consider is whether the 23-year-old can make a successful return from what was a very serious injury.
 
On that front things do look positive, even if he’s almost certain to miss the NAB Cup.
 
“Mick’s on track with his recovery from the fracture and looks to be back this season in a good way,” Fremantle’s sports science manager Jason Weber told fremantlefc.com.au in early January.
 
“Now that the bone is strong and recovered, one of the most important things is the soft tissue surrounding it.”
 
But then there’s the issue of his value. Barlow has been priced at $456,200, making him only $43,000 cheaper than Gold Coast superstar Gary Ablett.
 
With the queries over his fitness, he shapes as a very expensive proposition.

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