Fremantle is confident young runner Nick Suban will be back playing by mid-season after undergoing surgery for a broken right leg on Sunday night.

Suban suffered a broken fibula in the third quarter of Fremantle’s 29-point win over North Melbourne at Patersons Stadium when teammate Ryan Crowley fell across him while tackling Kangaroos midfielder Daniel Wells.

The 20-year-old was taken straight to hospital after the accidental collision and underwent surgery last night, with a plate inserted in his right leg.

Fremantle football manager Chris Bond said Suban would remain in hospital until mid-week, but the club expected him to be available by the halfway point of the season.

“We’ve spoken to Nick and he’s very positive and upbeat about getting back out playing with his teammates,” Bond said.

“Our medical advice at this stage is that he should be ready to go within eight weeks.”

Coach Mark Harvey said Suban, who worked his way back from an ankle injury early last season, had the mental strength to deal with the setback.

Harvey’s side overcame the loss of Suban to launch a third-quarter charge against North Melbourne, at one stage holding a 48-point lead before three late goals to the Roos narrowed the final margin.

Senior players Matthew Pavlich, David Mundy and Aaron Sandilands were all superb for Fremantle, which leapt into the top four with its third win from four games.

Harvey, whose side had an identical record after four games last season, said the club’s young players were lifting their output, with Nat Fyfe particularly influential.

“We sustain things for long periods with a young team,” he said.

“Some of our younger players are contributing when we get challenged by the opposition and we don’t necessarily rely on some of our heavyweights.”

Pavlich played predominantly midfield in Sunday’s clash and the skipper turned the game with 12 possessions (eight contested), five clearances and four inside 50s in the third term.

Harvey said it was a significant purple patch and he was happy to continue playing the captain in the centre.

“He’s got a good rapport with Mundy and Sandilands and whoever else is in there at the moment,” the coach said.

“He’s leading from the front, but what he has managed to do is to make sure the undercurrent is performing and helping him along the way.

“It’s the first time we’ve kicked over 100 points in a game (this season), so whilst we can keep improving in that area, we know that Pavlich can go down there for longer periods in the near future.”

Suban’s loss may be overcome to an extent by the return of important utility Garrick Ibbotson, who played his first game for the season as Fremantle’s substitute on Sunday.

Harvey said Ibbotson’s spell as the substitute would be short-lived after returning from a pre-season ankle injury.

“It was his first game all year – he hasn’t played a practice game – and I thought he did some important things,” Harvey said.

“He was a little bit rusty, but he needed to grow into an AFL game and I thought the sub was the best way to use him.”

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