Despite his recent return to full training, Fremantle midfielder David Mundy is likely to fall just short in his bid to make the start of the AFL season.

Mundy, who underwent ankle surgery at the tail end of last year, only returned to full training last week after a setback in his recovery.

The 26-year-old will ramp up his preparation by taking part in more aggressive agility work this week, but Dockers’ coach Ross Lyon isn’t optimistic of Mundy appearing against Geelong on March 31.

“I’ve probably learned not to make any close-ended statements except to say it’s still against him,” Lyon said on Tuesday.

“He’s not injured – he’s just building conditioning and he’s had some great weeks.

“I don’t really know David that well in regards to how much preparation he needs, but I think he’d be unlikely to play round one.”

Lyon was more hopeful for on-baller Michael Barlow, who is a chance to line up for WAFL club Peel Thunder this weekend after overcoming leg soreness.

Even if Barlow doesn’t appear in the WAFL, Lyon said the 24-year-old would still be right in the frame to take on Geelong.

“He’s been in full training. We know his GPS has been elite, so he’s going to be every chance to put his hand up for selection if everything goes really well,” Lyon said.

“He’s such a natural footballer in terms of winning possession and he’s got a massive natural tank.”

With Mundy and Anthony Morabito (quadriceps) likely to be missing against Geelong, and Barlow short on match fitness, Lyon said the onus was on others to step up.

“Crisis creates opportunity,” Lyon said.

“At some point, Stephen Hill, Nathan Fyfe and Hayden Ballantyne have got to step up and take ownership in there.

“They’ve had plenty of opportunity to do that so we’re really confident they can deliver.

“You need to be a team regardless of personnel. You can compete and whack away in there and that’s the aim.”

Ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf) and defender Luke McPharlin (concussion) remain on track to take part against Geelong, while the Dockers remain hopeful Michael Johnson (ankle) will also be deemed fit.

Meanwhile, Victoria Cross winner Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith has accepted the position as Fremantle’s new No.1 ticket holder for 2012, taking over from Australian rock band Eskimo Joe.

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