Sandi a huge boost: Lyon
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has declared it would take unforeseen circumstances to stop star ruckman Aaron Sandilands facing Geelong on Saturday night, but midfielder David Mundy has been ruled out of the club’s first match of the year at Patersons Stadium.
Sandilands has not played since tearing a calf almost a month ago, but the 29-year-old declared earlier this week that he was fit and available to lead Fremantle’s midfield against the reigning premiers.
While Lyon said Sandilands was close to a certainty for Saturday night’s clash, the coach will be without Mundy and faces a balancing act with midfielder Michael Barlow, who has not played this pre-season.
Barlow has been in full training for a number of weeks after battling leg soreness and Lyon said he had given himself every chance to step straight into the senior team.
The coach said he was leaning towards playing the clearance specialist, but a final decision wouldn’t be made until late Thursday.
“It’s an important decision without that sort of match practice, but we know he’s got a massive tank,” Lyon said on Wednesday.
“He’s quite unique, but we’ve got to make sure we keep the integrity of selection as best we can and give the team the best chance and reward those that have been performing really consistently.
“It’s going to be a really difficult match committee.”
Lyon confirmed on Wednesday that Mundy would not play, with the key midfielder preparing to join Anthony Morabito in WAFL ranks this weekend as he returns from a serious ankle injury.
“We just think we’re doing the right thing by David – we expect him to be back by round two or three,” Lyon said.
“He’s been in full training for a couple of weeks now, and I think if we were reckless we would play him, but I’ve got full faith in the players that have done everything.
“We’ve mapped out a really strong plan for him.
“He’s really comfortable with that, he respects that. We’ve given him every opportunity to be at his best, rather than just have him back, David Mundy the name.”
Lyon said he had confidence in Fremantle’s midfield without Mundy and Barlow, with Nat Fyfe, Stephen Hill, Greg Broughton and Hayden Ballantyne rotating on-ball through the NAB Cup.
“I think they’re in solid form,” the coach said. “I don’t think we’ve torn it apart in the NAB Cup but there have been rotations and mixes and different blends of midfielders.
“Morabito, Mundy and Barlow, if you add them into the mix it starts to look exciting, but we’re really confident with our capabilities as it sits.
“We don’t feel we need to be reckless and rush things.”
Lyon said forward Jack Anthony had completed a running session on Tuesday afternoon and had given himself every chance to face Geelong after missing training on Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, the coach said losing backline coach Todd Curley, who left the club on Tuesday afternoon, was not a significant hurdle in the build-up to Saturday night’s match.
Lyon said he would take on some minor responsibilities, while the clubs experienced defenders, led by Luke McPharlin, would run aspects of their own preparation.