AAP AFL

Freo buoyed by AFL bookends’ progression

By AAP Newswire

Fremantle have played down fears over Michael Walters' fitness after the All-Australian forward was spotted limping off the training track at Cockburn this morning.

Walters failed to finish the session, however, a club spokesman indicated there was no serious injury to report.

Meanwhile, the Dockers have been buoyed by the progression of bookends Alex Pearce and Jesse Hogan after respective ankle and foot injuries derailed their 2019 seasons in June.

Hogan was also involved in a car crash last month, but has since returned to a modified training program.

New coach Justin Longmuir tipped the key forward would return to full training in the near future, with an eye towards the round one clash with Essendon on March 21.

"He's really positive and the club's really positive that we've fixed some of the issues and that bone that he broke in his foot's really strong," Longmuir said.

"He's doing a lot of volume with his running and kicking and we hope he's in full training soon."

Key defender Pearce was in All-Australian contention before succumbing to a left ankle injury in round 11 last season.

The 24-year-old had another minor procedure on the joint this month, but is on track to return during the opening few rounds of the 2020 campaign.

"He's really upbeat and really positive about the surgery, and really positive about getting back earlier than anticipated," Longmuir said.

"It's been a positive step forward for him and puts him at ease a little bit knowing that the procedure will help him.

"It's not necessarily about the early part of the season for Alex, it's more about his longevity and making sure that when we get him out there, it's for a long period of time.

"We're expecting him back early in the year. We don't think the surgery is a big restriction or a big setback.

"If anything, the surgery is going to really help him with his confidence in his injury but also help it progress a lot quicker than it should have."

Fremantle are taking a cautious approach with dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe, who had off-season shoulder surgery, while dashing defender Nathan Wilson is making gradual progress on return from a toe complaint.