Retired Docker Des Headland has counselled fallen former teammate Anthony Morabito and tipped a stellar return for the 19-year-old.

“I gave him (Morabito) a call a couple of days after I found out, to see how he was, and he was upbeat and, as much as he was disappointed, he was looking to get his knee better as quickly as possible so he could get back out there next season with the boys,” said Headland, whose 114-game career at Fremantle was wrecked by injuries.

“Paul Hasleby spoke to him as well and he was really grateful that a couple of us older players gave him a call.

“I told him: ‘Look, you’re only young, mate. You’ve got to make sure you go back, do the right rehab, don’t rush yourself too quick too early, because you do it right and you’ve got another 10 or 12 years ahead of you.’

“He’s a good kid, Morabito, and he’ll definitely come out of this a stronger person and a better player as well.”

Morabito was last month ruled out of the Dockers’ season when he tore an anterior cruciate ligament in training.

Headland has urged his former team to “step it up” for this season, saying an improvement on the club’s semi-finals appearance last year would hinge on a top-four finish in 2011.

Headland’s AFL career ended after suffering a knee injury in Fremantle’s 30-point semi-final loss to Geelong in 2010.

But he urged Fremantle to improve on its first march into September since 2006, imploring the Dockers to build on the result and a strong pre-season.

“You talk to the boys and they’re saying this pre-season has been the toughest of all and their times have improved a lot when they talk about their 3km time-trials,” Headland said.

“The indicators are that the boys have stepped their game up another level, and if that’s the case, hopefully the can step it up from where we finished last year.

“They have to improve every year and to improve, they have to make top four and get that second chance.”

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