Justin Longmuir says third-year Fremantle player Luke Valente needs to get continuity in his football in order to kick-start his AFL career.
The talented midfielder was selected at no.32 in the 2018 NAB National Draft but battled a long-term groin injury for the much of his first two years at the club.
Now fully recovered, Valente was unlucky to be struck down with a calf injury on the eve of the season.
Valente hit a milestone at the weekend playing his first full WAFL game since 2019, with non-selected Fremantle players unable to play in the WAFL in 2020.
He had 15 disposals, seven marks and five marks in a promising performance against reigning premiers South Fremantle at Pingelly Oval.
“He had a really good pre-season. He hurt his calf towards the end of the practice matches. He had a bit of general soreness in his first game back so it’s just been a bit of a slow build back from that calf,” Longmuir said.
“He played league footy on the weekend. It’s just going to take a little bit of time to get real confidence in his body and get his running back up to speed.”
Longmuir said Fremantle would take their time with Valente at Peel before considering him at AFL level.
“The biggest thing for Luke at the moment is to play consistent football at whatever level,” Longmuir said.
“He’s back now, he can take a lot of confidence from what he produced at the weekend and he’ll just need to keep backing up those performances.
“Everyone who stays injury free and performs well is a chance to play. We have a lot of water to go under the bridge before we get to that stage though.”
Longmuir said midfielder Darcy Tucker would be available for selection in the RAC Derby in round seven, but added the 24-year-old was no lock to face the Eagles.
Tucker was prolific in the reserves for Peel against South Fremantle, racking up 32 disposals on limited minutes.
“We’ll give (Tucker) a week in the WAFL on higher minutes than last week and just slow the build up a little bit,” Longmuir said.
“As I said to him, it’s about making his body resilient so he can get through the rest of the season.
“We’ve got to get through this week first and weigh that up and see how the team performs.
“There’s no guarantees (but) he’ll be ready for AFL selection next week.”