Fremantle have one eye on the western derby and the other on September as the red-hot favourites weigh up their team to take on a depleted West Coast on Saturday night.
The Dockers could field up to 20 of their best 22, as they ponder whether to bring in a new tall forward option as part of finals insurance planning amid growing doubts over the durability of Matt Taberner.
Top-10 draft pick Jye Amiss will begin his bid to make himself available for the finals when he returns for Peel in the WAFL on Saturday, 12 weeks after suffering a serious kidney injury that was expected to end his season.
Amiss could be joined in the Thunder line-up by small forward Sam Switkowski, who is also ready to return following an extended lay-off with a back injury.
Switkowski, who has not played for nine weeks, will either play in the derby or for Peel against South Fremantle in Mandurah.
Amiss, 19, has made just one senior appearance but has the chance to play three WAFL games before Fremantle’s first final to stake his claim.
Amiss, Switkowski and captain Nat Fyfe joined a closed training session at Optus Stadium on Wednesday.
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said they would consider all forward-line contingencies.
“A little bit of it is this weekend and a little bit of it is looking forward, I suppose,” Longmuir said.
“There’s a few options there that we need to work through. There’s been times this year we’ve gone two talls down forward and it’s worked and then there’s been times when we’ve had three down there and that’s worked as well.”
The Eagles are expected to be missing at least nine players from their best 22, with the losses of Willie Rioli, Tim Kelly and Josh Kennedy compounding their long injury list.
Rioli, who will remain in Darwin following his father’s funeral on Wednesday, is the latest player to be ruled out, joining former Glendinning-Allan Medal winners Kelly (suspended) and Kennedy (retired) as omissions from the side that lost to Adelaide by 16 points on Sunday.
West Coast’s injury list features Jeremy McGovern, Elliot Yeo, Dom Sheed, Oscar Allen, Tom Cole and Jack Petruccelle.
Should Switkowski be recalled, Fyfe (hamstring) and Taberner (calf) will be Fremantle’s only first-choice players unavailable.
Fyfe has been ruled out of the derby despite continuing his strong track form and is targeting a comeback on Saturday week against Greater Western Sydney in Canberra.
“He’s not going to play this week, but he trained really well,” Longmuir told SEN.
“I feel like he’s starting to get a bit more confidence in his body and he’s able to let go a little bit more.”
The Dockers, paying $1.12, will remarkably start favourite in a derby for the first time since 2015, having won the past two clashes with the Eagles as outsiders.
Fremantle last started favourites in the monster clash in round 20, 2015, when the WA sides met as the top two on the ladder and West Coast ended their rivals’ six-match derby winning run.
The Dockers were $2.05 outsiders before their 55-point victory in round three, coming off a home loss to St Kilda the previous week at a time the Eagles regained players after having to field WAFL top-ups in their loss to North Melbourne.