Fremantle coach Mark Harvey has warned his players to be on-guard for a spirited and physical North Melbourne side this Sunday with the Roos left to ponder their heavy loss to Collingwood for two weeks.

North Melbourne travels to Patersons Stadium for the second time in a month, having narrowly lost to West Coast in round one before a crushing 87-point loss to the 2010 premiers at Etihad Stadium a week later.

Harvey said the 0-2 Roos had their backs against the wall early in the season but he expected them to respond this week.

“They’ve had a week to reassess a lot of things,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Thursday.

“I see there’s a media ban on their players at the moment, so there’s obviously something brewing and we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready for that.

“Reality is, they played really well against West Coast three weeks ago now and arguably should have won the game.

“Then of course they got beaten by the premiers of last year. They’re in reasonable form.”

Fremantle has made a bright start to the season, with road wins against the Brisbane Lions and Adelaide and a narrow loss to Geelong at home in round two.

Harvey said the 2-1 start had been encouraging given the club’s pre-season injury toll and it would be harder for sidelined players to force their way back into the side.

“The resolve amongst the team and the ability to grow as a team has been the reason why we’ve been able to maintain our performance so far,” the coach said.

“Whenever these guys do come back, they’re going to have to work harder to get back in the team [and] that would enforce players to find more than perhaps they would at times.

“We’ve been able to have stability in what we’ve done from a selection point of view, and that’s important.”

Harvey said star ruckman Aaron Sandilands would train on Saturday and should not be restricted in Sunday’s game after sustaining an eye injury against Adelaide.

Fremantle could also be boosted by Garrick Ibbotson’s return from a pre-season ankle injury, with Harvey declaring the important utility more than likely to play his first game for the season.

“He’s been training for the last two weeks now and moved into full training,” the coach said.

“There are different ways you can look at bringing players back now with the sub rule and all that sort of business, so we’ve got to weigh that up seriously.

“It’s a matter of the right balance we need to hopefully beat the Kangaroos on Sunday.”

Defender Alex Silvagni’s recovery from a stomach infection has been less encouraging, with the 23-year-old likely to miss another two weeks.

“It just keeps lingering and we can’t really put our finger on why that is,” Harvey said.

“He hasn’t joined in training yet so he’s probably a couple of weeks away again. He’s just got some soreness in and around the issue that he had.”

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