Key Dockers tipped to return
Fremantle captain Matthew Pavlich says injured Dockers stars Anthony Morabito, David Mundy and Michael Barlow are all chances to return to the team shortly.
Speaking to SEN radio from the AFL season launch in Sydney, Pavlich gave Docker fans plenty of encouragement with his upbeat appraisal of the recovering midfield stars, who could transform the Fremantle midfield once fit.
“Anthony Morabito and Michael Barlow are likely to, potentially, play a game this week or certainly have a really strong match simulation session tomorrow,” Pavlich said.
“So I think they are making a call on that later this afternoon. David Mundy has strongly put his hand up to play in round one. And certainly his training and GPS results are pretty close to displaying he’s a strong chance to play.
“But I think by virtue of how much training he has missed, football training this is, he’d be less likely than likely at this stage.
“And Lachie Neale’s ankle has actually come up really well. They initially thought it might be a six- to eight-weeker but he’s a slight chance to play this week, which would obviously give him an opportunity for round one.”
Also tipped to play are star ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf) and Michael Johnson (ankle). Garrick Ibbotson and Alex Silvagni will play in the WAFL to further their interrupted preparations.
Ball magnet Barlow suffered a severely broken leg in round 14 2010, not returning until round 13 the following year. He managed nine games last season, but suffered ongoing soreness throughout pre-season and did not play a practice match.
Playmaker Mundy is recovering from a major ankle surgery. He played four seasons without missing a game, but got through only 12 matches last season.
Dashing wingman Morabito lost his 2011 season to a major knee injury, after a dazzling debut season, in which he played 23 matches.
Neale is a first-year midfielder who had been pencilled in as a starting small forward until injuring his ankle recently.
Yesterday, Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was less bullish about Mundy’s chances of appearing in the opening round.
“He’s not injured, he’s just building conditioning and he’s had some great weeks,” Lyon told his club website.
“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.”
Pavlich admits that Lyon’s arrival is changing the Docker gameplan.
“Ross has certainly had some strong influences from his time from St Kilda. He’s tried to implement them immediately with us, but I think every side is different and unique and we certainly have different players from what St Kilda have so there will be some subtle differences.”
If Mundy, Morabito and Barlow come back to full fitness and form, Lyon will have the luxury of a deep, pacy, varied midfield to work with.
Currently, combative small forward Hayden Ballantyne is working out of the centre square with all-rounder Nathan Fyfe, run-with specialist Matt de Boer and former half-back Greg Broughton.