Michael Barlow was a surprise omission from Fremantle’s squad for Sunday’s round one NAB Cup clashes against West Coast and Essendon after suffering soreness in the leg he broke.

He could miss up to three weeks of pre-season matches as the Dockers adopt a safety-first approach with his rebuilt left leg.

“He has got some soreness in his leg,” football manager Chris Bond said last night.

“It is nothing major. We are expecting to take things easy with him for two to three weeks.

“We are expecting him to play at some point later in the NAB Cup.”

The Dockers named a 30-man squad for their first hit-outs of 2012, with star veterans Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands set to play in the two shortened games.

Kepler Bradley and Alex Silvagni, both with sore calf muscles, and Jesse Crichton (toe) were left out.

Silvagni’s absence, along with senior defender Luke McPharlin (rolled ankle), means Peter Faulks, Adam McPhee and Michael Johnson get early opportunities as tall defenders.

Barlow’s importance in the Dockers engine room is heightened by the absences of David Mundy and Anthony Morabito.

Mundy’s prolonged recovery from the serious ankle injury he suffered mid-season in 2011 has him in serious doubt for the season opener against Geelong at home on March 31.

Ross Lyon said this week that Mundy had not yet given up hope of being fit to face the Cats, but the coach told him that he might be being too optimistic.

Morabito is back on the track after setbacks and clean-up surgery on his reconstructed knee late last year.

However, he is expected to be eased back into competitive football and is a strong chance to start the 2012 season getting fitness and form in the WAFL.

Fremantle’s selectors opted for a mix of experience and youth for Sunday’s matches at Pattersons Stadium, with draftees Lachie Neale, Hayden Crozier, Haiden Schloithe and Tom Sheridan all in the squad.

Rookies Lee Spurr and Sam Menegola were also named, as were second-year players Jayden Pitt and Josh Mellington.

Barlow was the fairytale story of the first half of the 2010 season.

The 24-year-old, considered and eventually overlooked by several AFL clubs over several seasons, was rookie-listed by the Dockers after a standout VFL season with Werribee in 2009.

He was promoted onto the Dockers’ primary list before round one and averaged 27 possessions a game for the first 13 rounds of the year, kicking 15 goals to be an early favourite for the Brownlow Medal.

But he broke his leg in a collision with former teammate Rhys Palmer and missed the second half of the year and Fremantle’s two finals.

Barlow returned to play nine games last year but had further problems with soreness in his leg.

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