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Pearce determined after long road back

Travis King,  February 23, 2018 3:18 PM

Senior coach Ross Lyon spoke to media on Friday.

It was a "mentally draining" rehabilitation for Alex Pearce, but Fremantle coach Ross Lyon hopes the promising defender can have a big impact in 2018, even labeling him a potential "future captain".   

Pearce will make his long-awaited comeback in the JLT Community Series against Adelaide on Sunday, marking 645 days since his last appearance in purple.

The 22-year-old has endured a tough road back from two broken legs after first suffering the injury in round nine, 2016.

"You lose sight of how long it's been … that's (nearly) two years," Lyon said.

"I can still visualise that first incident at Domain and just when you think he's getting back, he had that spiral fracture (in January) last year.

"He's really important to us, he's 200cm, really quick. He's carrying himself really well. He's a driven, focused individual. 

"He's certainly leadership material stamped all over him, and a future captain of AFL football, I would think.

"But if we boil it down, for him to be back playing is wonderful for us, and him. It's been a tough road and unless you walk in his shoes, you probably don't understand it.

"Two years of rehab is monotonous and mentally draining, but he's back, and once you're back and you're going well, everything else seems to be forgotten."

Pearce won Fremantle’s Beacon Award as their best young player in 2015, and the versatile tall's aerial prowess should harden a developing backline.

"We can't get away from the fact we were most goals against from marks and in the corridor last year in the AFL," Lyon said. 

"We need to defend better one-on-one, and help our defenders.

"Hopefully, he's a part of that solution." 

Freo are taking a strong side to face the Crows, with Lyon declaring they "really need to hit the line running" for a tough early-season fixture.

Veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands is likely to play half the game, with strong-bodied back-up Lloyd Meek set for his first club appearance.

Lyon hoped emerging big man Sean Darcy (calf) would be fit to appear in a practice game against West Coast next Sunday, alongside Stephen Hill who "tweaked a little calf" during his rehab from a quad issue.

Fremantle have been impressed across the board with their draftees, and No.2 pick Andrew Brayshaw, speedster Stefan Giro and mature-age rookie Bailey Banfield will all play against Adelaide.

Adam Cerra is set to line-up for Peel in a WAFL practice game on Saturday to build his match conditioning after being concussed in a Freo intraclub game.

"There's plenty of time for him to get to round one and play in the early parts of the season," Lyon said. 

Leadership group member Lee Spurr will also play for Peel after an interrupted pre-season.