Fremantle has been boosted by news two of its most important players – Aaron Sandilands and Michael Barlow – are closing in on full fitness after injury struggles last year.

Ruckman Sandilands, who had a turf-toe injury last year that sidelined him for nine games, says he has returned to “100 per cent” health, while Barlow is finally free of the pain and soreness that has hindered his comeback from a broken leg.

Sandilands, probably Fremantle’s most important player, told the Herald Sun he had completely recovered from his rare toe complaint.

“The rest over the off-season did it the world of good and I’m back training 100 per cent and really happy with the way it feels,” he said.

“The fitness staff have varied my program a little bit.

“We didn’t end up going down [the surgery] path, we went down the rest path and let it heal naturally.

“It’s done that now and we did some strength work in that area of my foot and it’s back to 100 per cent now.”

The West Australian, meanwhile, has reported midfielder Barlow trained fully with the team for the first time this pre-season when the club resumed after its Christmas break.

The 24-year-old completed 40 minutes of simulated match practice with the main playing group and then led teammates in running laps of Fremantle Oval, running freely 18 months after his sickening left leg break.

Barlow experienced soreness in the leg during his nine appearances last season, but Fremantle stoppages coach Mark Stone said that was now a thing of the past.

“The feedback from him is that he’s got no pain, no soreness and he feels really good, really balanced on his leg,” Stone said.

“The strength work he’s done has obviously put him in a position where he can do that. That’s really exciting for us and for him that he can hit the season running, confident that his leg will be strong enough to handle AFL footy.

“He’s a good runner as it is, but his fitness base is terrific and he’s really worked hard right across the Christmas break … he’s fiercely determined to get back to playing good footy again.”

Stone added a minor calf muscle operation had restricted Barllow’s strength work and running but said the surgery corrected what was a common problem for players returning from a broken leg.

Fellow midfielders Anthony Morabito, Nat Fyfe and David Mundy, along with forward Chris Mayne, are still on restricted duties, although Stone said Mundy (ankle) and Mayne (knee) would join full training later this month, and could even be ready for the NAB Cup openers against West Coast and Essendon at Patersons Stadium on February 19.

“We’d like them to play some NAB Cup, certainly,” Stone said.

“Just how many minutes and which games they’ll play, we’re not too sure at this stage.”

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