Fremantle is expected to strengthen its backline for Sunday’s NAB Cup clash against Richmond, with key defenders Luke McPharlin and Alex Silvagni both available to play their first pre-season matches.

Ruckman Jon Griffin and key forward Kepler Bradley could also be called into the squad after missing Fremantle’s opening matches against West Coast and Essendon.

McPharlin, who rolled his left ankle in an intra-club match earlier this month, and Silvagni (calf) both trained strongly in a physical session at Fremantle Oval on Monday morning.

Bradley, Griffin and defender Antoni Grover also trained, but midfielders David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Anthony Morabito, who are all returning from long-term injuries, were missing.

Morabito, who underwent a knee reconstruction more than 12 months ago and suffered three setbacks in his recovery, has completed full training in the past week.

The 20-year-old is expected to play two pre-season matches, but Mundy and Barlow appear less certain to be available for the club’s round one clash against Geelong at Patersons Stadium on March 31.

Forward Hayden Ballantyne, who has been training for an on-ball role this season, said the club was confident it could match Geelong in the midfield, even if the key pair was missing.

“They (Geelong) have lost a lot of good players; they’ve lost ‘Lingy’ (Cameron Ling) who is one of their big bodies,” Ballantyne said on Monday.

“‘[Mundy and Barlow] will be hard to replace if they don’t play, but they’re on track to play round one and hopefully they do.

“If it comes around that they don’t then hopefully we can replace them with someone else.”

Ballantyne said coach Ross Lyon had highlighted holding the ball inside the team’s forward 50 as an area to focus on against Richmond on Sunday.

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