A number of Fremantle’s best defenders are on track to return to full training at the start of pre-season, according to assistant coach David Hale.
Fremantle have missed the likes of Alex Pearce, Joel Hamling, Griffin Logue and Hayden Young for most, if not all, of the 2020 season, and Hale is hopeful to see the bulk of that group fit and ready to go when Freo start their preparations for 2021.
Hale said Logue was ready to return but was unlikely to take part in Fremantle’s final round clash against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday at Cazaly’s Stadium in Cairns.
“(Logue won’t play) at this stage, we just think the risk is probably too high. He’ll be fresh for the off-season,” Hale told ABC radio.
“He has trained the last week and a half, so he’s pretty much right to go.”
Hale said Pearce and Young were on track to join Logue at the start of pre-season.
“There’s been positive signs in the last couple of weeks,” Hale said.
“Hayden Young, he’s about eight or nine weeks into his recovery and all signs are that he’s ticking every box, so he should be fit to go by day one,” Hale said
“Alex Pearce has started running on grass and is tracking pretty well. At this stage, we anticipate most of them, maybe Joel is the only query, for the start of pre-season.”
With a backline at full fitness, Fremantle senior coach Justin Longmuir would have some tough decisions to make at the selection table.
Versatile tall Brennan Cox has shone after making the full time switch to defence and Hale said they would be reluctant to see the 22-year-old return to the forward line.
“He’s definitely got that string to his bow (playing forward) but I think he’s shown this year his ability to fit into the system we want to employ in that back half, he’s been really strong,” Hale said.
“His biggest strength is his ability to read the cues up the ground and to be able to get to the right spot and the drop of the ball.
“Someone with his ability at his age, and the development he’s shown this year, is invaluable.”