No sub for Sandi
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey says he won’t recall any players from injury this week, including star ruckman Aaron Sandilands, unless they are capable of playing a full game against the Brisbane Lions at Patersons Stadium on Saturday night.
Sandilands, who has been sidelined for four weeks with a toe injury, will join in full training on Wednesday night and is one of four key players pushing to return from injury.
Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring), Roger Hayden (foot) and Alex Silvagni (groin) are others in line to return, while Antoni Grover (adductor) faces a fitness test on Friday to determine his availability.
Harvey said the sub rule would not be used to nurse any of the club’s key players back into AFL action against the Lions.
“We’re not carrying them through using a sub player or rotating them more than we should – the game’s beyond that,” Harvey said from Fremantle Oval on Wednesday.
“We have to make sure that if Aaron plays, he gets through a full training session, there’s no soreness and that we don’t have to use him on and off the interchange bench because it’s his first game back.
“If we keep doing that, then we’ll have issues as the game goes on, and we can’t afford that, particularly if you lose a player under this rotation scheme that we’ve got.
“Purely, the decision will be made on whether he can sustain the game for the duration.”
Forward Kepler Bradley, the team’s leading goalkicker this season with 21, is available to return against the Lions after being withdrawn late against Melbourne last Saturday with a knee injury.
Midfielder Rhys Palmer, who hasn’t played since being the substitute against Hawthorn in round 11, is also in line for selection after being overlooked for the past two weeks.
“He played well the week before for East Fremantle,” Harvey said. “He knows the areas that he needs to work on and once again it’s a product of what you’re prepared to do for the team to make sure that it wins.”
Following its 89-point defeat to Melbourne, Fremantle has lost five of its last seven games and is hanging on to its position in the top eight by half a match.
Harvey said the players coming into the team weren’t taking their opportunities, and finding some consistency was the main aim for his group.
“The rollercoaster effect is quite evident with a number of teams, but to be honest, it’s not something we want to be a part of,” the coach said.
“When it’s your chance to get in the team, irrespective of injury, then it’s what you make of it. At this particular stage it’d be reasonable to say that some of these guys aren’t taking their opportunity.
“We want to be more consistent with what we’re doing. It’s an opportunity for whoever pulls on the Fremantle jumper to make sure that he’s consistent.”