Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has urged fans not to expect miracles from returning midfielder Nat Fyfe, saying the 20-year-old will need time to reacclimatise to the ‘brutal’ AFL competition.

Fyfe, who encountered a series of shoulder dislocations earlier this year, hasn’t played since undergoing surgery in May.

After giving his reconstructed left shoulder a series of bruising workouts at training over the past fortnight, Fyfe will make his long-awaited return against Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Sunday.

Despite being just 43 games into his AFL career, Fyfe has already established himself as Fremantle’s most important midfielder, with his elite ball-winning ability, slick disposals and excellent marking already drawing comparisons with Essendon great James Hird.

But Lyon said Fyfe’s lengthy spell on the sidelines meant it could take some time before the 2011 All Australian nominee rediscovered his top form.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t set expectations too high,” Lyon said of Fyfe, who is set to play up forward, on the wing and through the midfield against Port Adelaide.

“He’s been out for 12 weeks. He’s certainly fit and raring to go, but we just want him to come in and play a role and reintroduce himself to the brutal business of AFL football.

“It’s such a hard-edge competition that if you’re off the pace a little bit, people in form can drift out of form pretty quickly.

“So I’m not expecting miracles off of him, but I certainly expect him to bring some ball-winning and midfield run and size to us.”

Lyon hoped Fyfe could develop the versatility of Hird and St Kilda gun Brendon Goddard, turning into a player who could influence games in all positions after making his name as a midfielder.

“He’s played some great games forward and he can play on a wing. He’s so flexible that I’m pretty sure we’ll move him around.

“The prototype was James Hird. He started as a running centre half-forward and could go on-ball and change games.

“As with Brendon Goddard. [He can play] midfield, throw him forward he kicks five, put him behind the ball he mops up.

“I’d like to think that Nathan can develop that versatility that Hird and Goddard had.”

Fyfe has undergone two major operations on his left shoulder, and Lyon said it would come down to “random chance” as to whether the problem would resurface.

“There’s not many guarantees in life is there? – death and taxes is about it,” he said.

Port Adelaide have promised to produce a physical display against Fremantle, but Lyon said his charges wouldn’t shy away from the challenge.

Forward Chris Mayne (calf) will join Fyfe as key inclusions for the ninth-placed Freo, while defender Zac Dawson (knee) and utility Greg Broughton (back) will also come under consideration.

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