Fremantle Dockers head coach Justin Longmuir remains upbeat about Nathan Fyfe being ready for the start of the new AFL season.
Longmuir is taking no risks with his star performer, who is still recovering from serious shoulder surgery, meaning that he has yet to appear during the pre-season campaign, with Fremantle 2/1 to secure a top-eight spot in the season proper.
However, Fyfe is reported to be very close to being able to return to the fold, with Longmuir happy to leave things up to the versatile 30-year-old to decide when is fit enough to feature.
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He told the West Australian: "There was strong consideration on playing Fyfey for a half, but there's a couple of markers that he hasn't quite reached with his strength in that shoulder.
"We expect him to make some really good progress on that over the next couple of weeks and it doesn't change our thoughts with him for round one. But he's going to miss this week."
"He's an experienced campaigner, his fitness is at an elite level, he's just got to pick up a couple of markers in his strength in that shoulder.
"It's a long season so we decided not to risk it this week.
"He's done a lot and he's been in full training for a couple of weeks. (Match practice) is hard to replicate though. It's not the same as a game, you don't get the same collision at 360 (degrees)."
Fremantle open their AFL campaign with a trip to the Adelaide Oval to take on the Crows on Sunday 20th March.
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