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Sandilands tracking well

Travis King,  February 23, 2017 11:08 AM

Aaron Sandilands remains on track to be available for the start of the AFL season

Aaron Sandilands remains on track to be available for the start of the AFL season

Fremantle has received a pre-season boost with veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands on target to return from a calf injury during the JLT Community Series.

But emerging defender Alex Pearce looks unlikely to be seen until mid-season after re-fracturing his leg last month.

Sandilands picked up a minor left calf strain about three weeks ago and is almost ready to return to training.

The 34-year-old won't travel to Geraldton for the pre-season Western Derby clash with West Coast this Saturday, but could return against Collingwood in Mandurah the following weekend or in the final pre-season hit-out against Carlton.

"He's probably not as bad as we thought with his injury," defensive coach Michael Prior told 6PR's Sportsday.

"I think he'll do a little bit of training next week and push for a little bit of game time – if it's not the second game it will be the third. 

"We're looking forward to having him out there, but obviously these guys we want to make sure they're playing round one.

"So if they miss a game or two of the JLT series, so be it."

Pearce is facing another lengthy stint in rehabilitation after suffering a partial fracture to the same leg he broke in round nine last season.

"It was really disappointing for Alex. He was only a week or two away from rejoining the main group again and then he re-fractured his ankle in an exercise in his rehab process that he'd done a lot of," Prior said.

"We'll see him this year, it will probably be the middle part of the year, but he'll be fine."

Meanwhile, ex-Western Bulldogs premiership backman Joel Hamling is in line to make his club debut against West Coast in Geraldton this Saturday after overcoming a bout of food poisoning from eating a dodgy pizza.

"Joel has fitted in really well. I think his work ethic and how he went about his training really endeared him to his teammates," Prior said. 

"Obviously he had that setback a couple of weeks ago with food poisoning … where he lost six or seven kilos in the space of 10 days.

"He's been able to put the majority of that weight back on now and is back in the group training and he should play on the weekend."