Fremantle forward Matt de Boer says the club will have its depth tested early in the NAB Cup, with a host of key players set to miss Sunday’s opening matches against West Coast and Essendon.

Midfielder Michael Barlow has soreness in the leg he broke more than 18 months ago and is not expected to play until later in the pre-season, while David Mundy (ankle) is in doubt for the club’s season opener against Geelong on March 31.

Other key players not selected for Sunday’s NAB Cup triple-header are Luke McPharlin, Alex Silvagni, Anthony Morabito, Kepler Bradley, Antoni Grover and Jon Griffin.

New recruits Lachie Neale, Tom Sheridan, Hayden Crozier, Lee Spurr, Haiden Schloithe and Sam Menagola have all been named, meanwhile, and will be given opportunities.

“The younger boys are jumping out of their skin to get out there,” de Boer said from Patersons Stadium on Friday.

“We’ve got a lot of good talent and it’s good to test our depth so early and on a big stage here at home.

“All the boys have been working hard and we can’t wait to get out there and show what we’ve got.”

Fremantle played an intra-club match last Friday night, but Sunday’s NAB Cup matches will showcase coach Ross Lyon’s game plan against AFL opposition for the first time.

De Boer said changes under the former St Kilda coach would be subtle.

“Obviously we’ve been testing it against ourselves, but testing it out here on Sunday will be a whole new level again and it will be good to test it under game speed and game pressure,” he said. “It’ll be hard to tell [changes] I think.”

De Boer, who played 16 games last season in a defensive forward role, has been training with the club’s forwards this pre-season and said that is where he expected to start the season.

Asked what sort of team Fremantle would be under Lyon in 2012, the 21-year-old said: “Just a very hard-nosed, fit side that will push right to the end.”

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