Scott Pendlebury was voted most likely to win this year’s Brownlow Medal in the AFL’s annual captains’ poll, but at least one skipper believes Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe can do it in just his third season.

Pendlebury received eight of a possible 18 votes, with Lance Franklin (four) and 2009 winner Gary Ablett (two) the other leading contenders.

Star midfielders Fyfe, Daniel Kerr, Sam Mitchell and Joel Selwood were the remaining names to be backed by one captain.

The fact the 20-year-old was rated amongst such prestigious company, even after shoulder surgery capped his stellar breakout season last year, is telling.

But Fyfe’s pre-season form suggests he hasn’t lost any of his sparkling touch.

And Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich can’t see any reason why Fyfe, who has played just 39 games after being drafted with pick No.20 in 2009, won’t improve.

“There’s no question he’ll have another strong season,” Pavlich said.

“He’s a driven young man and he’s really prepared himself as well as possible.

“He had a few niggles throughout the pre-season with some surgery towards the end of last year.

“But we’re confident in his ability but also his drive to continue to become a good player in the AFL.”

Most AFL skippers are expecting the Dockers, who missed the finals last year after a dreadful run of injuries, to return to the top eight under new coach Ross Lyon.

The Dockers were nominated as finalists by 12 of a possible 17 captains, with Collingwood, Carlton, Geelong, West Coast and Hawthorn the only clubs to poll more numbers.

Pavlich admitted his side was in a healthier state than the corresponding time last year.

“I think what the group’s been able to show this year is a higher level of preparation, by virtue of not being injured,” he said.

“We had a lot of players towards this part of last year, and in January and February, being sore and injured.

“And a lot of players not weren’t able to get the minutes they needed to have the confidence to go into the season with.

“I think that’s the main reason why we’ve got confidence, because our preparation’s been pretty solid.”

Fremantle starts its season with a home match against Geelong on Saturday week.

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