As he enters his 12th AFL season, Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich is refusing to believe his opportunity to be part of the ultimate success is slipping away.

The 29-year-old, who has been captain of Fremantle since 2007 and has led his side to just one finals campaign, is refusing to give up hope of holding a premiership cup aloft despite the fact that time is running out.

“I don’t really take time to focus on that. I’m too concerned about ensuring that the things we concentrate on are the important aspects of how we’re going to play each week and how we train,” he said on Thursday at the AFL captains’ day.

“There are no surprises that this game continues to present a lot of challenges, and one of those is an indifferent pre-season.

“I’m confident that we can overcome that and still be a very competitive force this year.”

Fremantle’s horror pre-season has seen David Mundy develop groin soreness and Matt de Boer (hamstring) and Byron Schammer (thigh) sidelined.

In addition, Stephen Hill has missed a chunk of training with a shin problem while Anthony Morabito (knee) – who impressed in his debut season in 2010 – is gone for the season. New recruit Tendai Mzungu has a 10-week knee injury.

Last year’s sensation, midfielder Michael Barlow (leg), remains two months away from returning, while defender Roger Hayden (foot) is out for a similar period.

Despite the raft of injuries, Pavlich – who will become Fremantle’s most capped player when he surpasses Shane Parker’s 238-game record in round three – refuses to believe the window is closing for the club’s ambitions to win a first premiership.

He also believes this year should not be written off despite the club’s highly-publicised pre-season woes.

“We understand from a leadership perspective a lot is on our shoulders to perform each week, but the development and the improvement will continually come from our young players in their first to fourth years,” he said.

“I think what we have seen is that a lot of our players have had a really great pre-season.

“They’re going to have to hold the fort a little bit, especially early on, and make sure they pick up the pieces when some of those guys will have to be nursed through the early rounds.

“It isn’t ideal and we understand that, but we’re confident that our game plan, and the guys that are fit, will be able to hold up.”

Pavlich also said the league should resist temptation to extend the season – and even reduce it slightly from the 2011 schedule – after the introduction of both Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.

“I think both physically and mentally for everyone, it needs to be a maximum of about two or three pre-season games, a maximum of a 22-round season and four finals,” he said.

“I just think it’s too taxing a year (otherwise), especially with the size of the lists as they are.”

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