Fremantle look set for three big inclusions ahead of Saturday’s clash with Hawthorn, coach Justin Longmuir flagging Michael Walters, Sam Switkowski and Nat Fyfe will return.
Switkowski has served his two-match suspension and will be a direct swap for banned forward Michael Frederick, Walters has overcome a hamstring niggle and Fyfe emerged unscathed from his WAFL return.
But the Dockers will be without key forward Matt Taberner until after the mid-season bye due to a lingering back injury.
There could also be concerns for several Dockers on light duties at Wednesday’s main session.
Ruck Sean Darcy, midfielder Andrew Brayshaw, defender Brennan Cox, forward Lachie Schultz, defender Jordan Clark and Taberner all trained away from the main group as the Dockers work through some extra niggles ahead of their mid-season bye.
Fremantle remain confident Taberner isn’t battling a serious injury.
“It probably just hasn’t responded the way we would have liked and the way it has in the past,” Longmuir said.
“He’s just been a bit interrupted this year, in and out. He hasn’t got the continuity we’d like.
“We have to make sure we get that right, because he’s a really important part of our team and can make a big difference for us.”
Fyfe trained fully in his final test before his long-awaited AFL return.
The two-time Brownlow medallist will play managed minutes.
Longmuir conceded his captain had “dodged a (COVID) bullet” after he was mobbed by fans in the wake of his Peel cameo, predicting Fyfe would enjoy the bye with his teammates instead of returning to the WAFL.
“The build he’s had has been quite long and he’s done a lot of work to get to the point he’s at. Probably two games is a good spot to have a bit of a rest and train up again,” Longmuir said.
Hawthorn will be without forward Jack Gunston (ankle), but Sam Frost (suspension) and Jack Scrimshaw (concussion) could return.
Longmuir also said it was an easy decision to suspend in-form forward Michael Frederick, who was out drinking during the six-day break, against club rules.
Longmuir said drawing a line in the sand now would maintain the club’s standards moving forward.
Frederick, a star in Fremantle’s wins against Melbourne and Brisbane in the past fortnight, will miss Saturday’s clash after the Dockers’ leadership group imposed the ban.
No other players were involved but the club is confident the penalty will stop similar issues down the track as Fremantle prepare for a top-four assault in the second half of the season.
“I said to the players yesterday, it might hurt our chances of winning this weekend by not having Freddy out there but walking past these things will stop us from winning in the future,” Longmuir said.
“We need to step on it. He’s going to learn a tough lesson. He’s made a bad decision and he’ll learn from it.
“He clearly stepped outside of the behaviours we accept
“He knew that. He owned up to it, fessed up to it … apologised really sincerely. I know he’ll learn from it and come back a better person and a better player.
“Drinking on a six-day break is just not great for recovery. It’s a short turnaround in AFL footy.
“We need everyone to recover the best they can and it just doesn’t allow you to do it. It’s been a rule and is probably a rule at most footy clubs.”