Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow is likely to miss Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast at Patersons Stadium, but the star says he is not carrying a fresh injury after making his comeback from injury two weeks ago.
Barlow, who extended his contract to the end of the 2014 season on Tuesday, was one of several Fremantle players on light duties at Wednesday’s training session.
Defender Alex Silvagni took no part, while key midfielders Nat Fyfe and Stephen Hill and forward Chris Mayne were restricted.
Barlow said he had pulled up sore after playing his first game for the season against Melbourne in round 13, 12 months after breaking his left leg, but he hoped to push for selection against the Suns.
“It was something to play through and push on with, but the medicos and sports science guys thought we’d look after me and see how we can manage me to get the best out of me for the rest of the season,” he said.
Coach Mark Harvey said the 23-year-old was unlikely to play this Saturday, but he would otherwise be selecting his strongest possible line-up as Fremantle looked to stabilise its season ahead of a bye in round 16.
“We’re playing a good young side here that has had all the early picks from the last year or two,” the coach said from Patersons Stadium on Wednesday.
“We understand that they’re talented, so from a selection point of view everyone that is fit and available we’ll be picking.
“They’ve been indifferent at times, but when they’re on they get some really good momentum shifts in games and they kick goals quickly. We are not underestimating them at all.”
Harvey said he anticipated making four to five changes to the side that beat the Lions by 23 points, with Jon Griffin set to replace injured ruckman Aaron Sandilands and Antoni Grover, Hayden Ballantyne and Tendai Mzungu all available to return from injury.
The coach said star defender Luke McPharlin, who aggravated a groin in Saturday night’s match and was subbed out at half time, was confident of playing.
While the backline will be strengthened by Grover’s return, and Roger Hayden will be better for last week’s run, Harvey was wary of Gold Coast’s ability at the stoppages.
Fremantle lost the centre clearances 19-4 against the Lions and will this week look to quell the influence of star Suns Gary Ablett and Michael Rischitelli, and young ruckman Zac Smith.
“They’ve probably got the best young ruckman, and he’s surrounded by blokes that have won best and fairests and Brownlow medals,” Harvey said. “They’re a good stoppage team.”
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich is set to play his 250th AFL game on Saturday, and Harvey said the star forward could become the first WA-based player to go on and play 300 matches.
“His knees and ankles are quite good after a long period of time at this level,” the coach said. “I would have thought he would play 300 games (and) probably go straight past it for that matter.
“It’s big for him personally, but Mayne and (Matt) de Boer have told me that their 50th is as important.”