Injured Dockers back on deck
Fremantle are poised to benefit from a thinning injury list with tough forward Matt de Boer pushing for a return against Geelong at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
De Boer, 21, played his first match of the year for Claremont in the WAFL last Saturday to put a pre-season derailed by a hamstring injury behind him and signalled his readiness for a recall as one of the Tigers’ best.
The Dockers also are close to regaining utility player Garrick Ibbotson, who ran strongly at training yesterday.
Coach Mark Harvey said Ibbotson (ankle) was not far away from resuming.
His injury summed up Fremantle’s run of bad luck during the pre-season – he stepped on a sprinkler head in a park and damaged ankle ligaments, ruling him out of the season opener.
Good fortune appeared back in Fremantle’s court during last Saturday’s two-point victory over Brisbane after the Dockers emerged unscathed, while their opposition lost Jonathan Brown (facial fractures) and Brent Staker (knee).
Despite the upside, doubt remains over the condition of defender Alex Silvagni, who was released from hospital last Friday.
Fremantle had cited a stomach infection as the reason behind Silvagni’s admission, but there were reports yesterday that the 23-year-old had instead suffered an adverse reaction to a steroid injection in a strained thigh muscle, causing the leg to become infected.
A Fremantle spokesman said Silvagni had been at the club yesterday riding on an exercise bike and was not at home on a drip.
The spokesman said Silvagni had previously received an injection in his groin and not a strained thigh.
Only four other members of Fremantle’s first-choice line-up – Michael Barlow (leg), Roger Hayden (foot), Anthony Morabito (knee) and Tendai Mzungu (knee) – remain unavailable to play against Geelong.
De Boer gathered 20 disposals and showcased his trademark tackling pressure against Swan Districts at Claremont Oval.
He was elevated into the Dockers leadership group during the off-season in a sign of his standing at the club and has a history of being rushed back into the line-up without being asked to clock up significant game time in the WAFL.
Claremont coach Simon McPhee said de Boer had played 90 per cent of the match.
“He ran out the game strongly, he was good,” McPhee said.
“It was a hot day, too, so his fitness wasn’t a problem, that’s for sure.”
First-gamer Jayden Pitt and defender Jay van Berlo appear the most likely to make way for de Boer despite playing useful roles against Brisbane.
The Starlight Purple Haze match against Geelong will represent the club’s first meeting against new Cats coach and former Fremantle assistant Chris Scott.
Starlight ambassador Chris Mayne rejected suggestions the round-two encounter was a chance for payback despite the 2009 premiers dumping Fremantle out of the flag race in last year’s semi- finals.
“We don’t think about that now,” Mayne said. “It’s a different season, different circumstances and we’re just looking forward to coming up against them this weekend.”