Fremantle defender Luke McPharlin believes the club’s senior stars should play at least one full practice match before the season opener against Geelong, after being nursed through the opening rounds of the NAB Cup.

McPharlin made his return from a minor ankle injury against Richmond last Sunday night, but the 30-year-old was substituted out of the game at half time.

Captain Matthew Pavlich and star ruckman Aaron Sandilands, who was a late withdrawal against the Tigers with calf tightness, have also made low-key starts to the pre-season competition.

McPharlin said there were many positives in the way Fremantle performed without its senior core on Sunday night, but playing a full match before round one would be ideal for the important trio.

“I think it’s good to get close to it… you want to know that you can certainly hit round one fully confident that you can run out four quarters,” McPharlin said on Tuesday.

“It’s a bit of management, particularly with the older guys and the amount of years we’ve been in the system.

“From a personal point of view it’ll be good to get a four-quarter hit-out at some point in the next couple of weeks to know that I’ll be ready for round one.”

Sandilands played in Fremantle’s two shortened matches in round one of the pre-season competition and had planned to face Richmond before pulling up sore in the team warm-up.

McPharlin said the three-time All Australian had rebounded well this week.

“He seems to be moving around fine, I think it was just a minor injury, so I imagine he’ll be 100 per cent for round one,” he said.

“We put a strong emphasis on availability. We want to have our best players on the park for round one and that’s what the whole pre-season has been about.

“The focus through the NAB Cup is we still want to be competitive and play against other competitive sides but our entire focus is on round one.”

McPharlin, who finished fourth in Fremantle’s best and fairest last year, said his minor ankle injury had not interrupted his pre-season too much and he would look to build his ground time against Port Adelaide in Victor Harbor this Saturday.

Fellow key defender Alex Silvagni, who is being touted as a potential forward this season, could return against the Power as a number of players jockey for spots in the Fremantle backline.

“He’s come off the back of a minor calf strain, [but] he’s moving well, he trained well this morning and he’ll put his hand up for his weekend,” McPharlin said.

“He’s been able to play in the forward line over the last couple of years at times, he doesn’t mind a goal and he’s a very competitive unit.

“Zac Dawson’s slotted in pretty nicely and Antoni Grover will be hopefully back in the next week or two, so we’ve got lots of stocks in defence to carry us through the season.

“That’s when it becomes a very healthy situation, guys competing for spots and pushing each other.”

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