Former Docker Des Headland has come to his old club’s aid in a bid to get urgently-needed match practice for Roger Hayden.

Hayden and teammate Michael Walters have been released by the Dockers to play in an indigenous all-stars team coached by Headland against the State under-20s team, coached by another former Docker Paul Hasleby, at Bendigo Bank Stadium on Saturday.

Hayden, who hasn’t played AFL this season because of a foot injury, got his first match practice last week, playing three quarters with the South Fremantle reserves.

Headland said yesterday the Dockers had requested Hayden play so his return would not be affected by the WAFL bye created by the interstate clash between WA and Queensland which, volcanic ash cloud permitting, would be played before the all-stars game.

With a second solid hit-out behind him, Hayden would press for selection in Fremantle’s senior team for its clash against Brisbane the following week.

Walters has had his season disrupted by an ankle problem and suspension but could also find himself close to AFL selection next week because of a hamstring injury to Hayden Ballantyne.

Meanwhile, Dockers coach Mark Harvey confirmed Michael Barlow would return against Melbourne on Sunday, 351 days after breaking a leg against Port Adelaide.

“I told him yesterday to brace himself and get ready for playing at the MCG, and to welcome him back into the team and that all the hard work has paid off,” Harvey said.

“It gives an opportunity for his family to go to the MCG – for that matter all of our supporters in Melbourne. He is just excited to be back in the team and hopefully he can take off from where he left it.”

Harvey said he was unlikely to play Barlow as the substitute, preferring to start him midfield and replace him later, if required.

“In this game you can’t carry players, you put them in positions where you know they are going to have an influence,” he said.

“We will just play him, let him play and see how far he can go.”

Harvey said Barlow had recovered well after having 33 possessions for Peel Thunder in the WAFL last week.

“We are pleased for him – everyone is,” he said.

“It was announced to the players this morning and the applause was deafening.

“Ideally, if we had more numbers, he might have played another game but seeing how well he played last week forced the issue – even before David Mundy had been put out.”

Barlow comes in as a like-for-like replacement for Mundy. Rhys Palmer and teenager Josh Mellington are among the contenders to replace Ballantyne.

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