FREMANTLE has put a line through classy midfielder Stephen Hill for the round one clash against Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, while troubled star Harley Bennell won’t play for Peel Thunder this Saturday, with the Dockers still searching for answers to his injury woes after another calf setback.
However, reigning club champion Bradley Hill remains an outside chance to board the plane, despite straining a quad at training last Wednesday.
“Brad Hill’s coming along a lot quicker as evidenced by what he said on the stage (today), so that’s pretty exciting,” said Fremantle coach Ross Lyon at the club’s season launch on Tuesday.
“But on the back of our JLT2 (62-point win over West Coast), a lot of people have picked themselves and put a lot of pressure on match committee.”
Stephen Hill is a ‘definite miss’ for the contest against the Power after failing to play a pre-season match due to quad and calf issues.
“Hopefully (he’ll play) round two. He was slow with a calf, it was unusual for him, he normally moves through,” Lyon said.
“He was just getting some little spasms in there, but that’s cleared up.”
Bennell strained a calf on February 15 while serving his club-imposed suspension and the former Gold Coast star is still in rehabilitation.
The Dockers haven’t placed a timeline on the 25-year-old’s return, as they continue to examine the calf issues that have ruined his first two seasons at the club.
“He’s running and moving, so he’s just going to have to build up, which obviously is disappointing, but it’s the sort of trend we’re in,” Lyon said.
“Between Harley, our medical and ‘S and C’ (strength and conditioning), we’ve got to find a solution because once we do, we know we’ve got a very good player.”
“It’s a tough period, but he’s held himself. He needs to continue to button down.”
Lyon declared that number two draft pick Andrew Brayshaw and rookie Bailey Banfield are both in the frame for round one after impressive showings in the JLT Community Series.
The pair are among 22 news faces Fremantle have brought in over the past two off-seasons.
While the Dockers harbour aspirations of playing finals football in 2018, Lyon implored those aligned with the club to enjoy the journey as Fremantle enter the second year of a four-year rebuild.
“The real enjoyment, we’re aiming strategically to win a premiership and move to be consistently in the finals, but you just don’t want to jump on the end,” said Lyon.
“The real joy comes from what you’ve seen with Richmond and the Bulldogs – years of toil and a rebuild – eight years for the Tigers, six years for the Bulldogs.”
“If you’ve been a part of the hard yards, you see players grow. Luke Dahlhaus started in 2011 when they (Bulldogs) fell off the cliff and he play in it (a premiership) in ’16.”
“Enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, the hard work.”
“There’s no guarantee, but we’re after the fruits of our labour.”