Aaron Sandilands is recovering well from a hamstring injury and looks set to be back by round two
FREMANTLE ruckman Aaron Sandilands has ramped up his running program and appears set for a round two return after initial fears he could miss the first month of the season.
Sandilands suffered a partial tear to his hamstring tendon in late February and was expected to be sidelined for up to eight weeks, but his recovery has been strong.
The three-time All Australian, who moved well in a short running session at Fremantle Oval on Thursday morning, is now in line to face the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium in round two.
"He'd been running PB's, he was in really good shape and he was light, so unfortunately [he suffered] a little bit of hamstring but he'll be available round two," coach Ross Lyon said.
"I've got great confidence in our strength and conditioning staff to prepare a great program."
Assistant coach Brett Kirk said it was unlikely Sandilands could progress quickly enough to be available for Fremantle's season-opener against West Coast in nine days.
However, ruckmen Jon Griffin and Zac Clarke have pleased the club's coaches with their pre-season form.
Kirk acknowledged the strength of West Coast's midfield but said Fremantle had added depth over the pre-season and would be primed for the round-one blockbuster.
"We're looking forward to having a really good hit-out with them," Kirk said.
"We've added Danyle Pearce into that mix, and Nick Suban's been playing a bit through [the midfield] in the pre-season.
"There's no doubt there's a bit more depth.
"You only have to look at the very good teams – Geelong, Collingwood, Sydney – they've got 10 or 11 guys who can run through there and there's no doubt we've got that."
Kirk said Fremantle's round one team would look very similar to the group that beat the Western Bulldogs by 109 points in last Saturday's NAB Cup match in Mandurah.
The Sydney Swans premiership champion said uninterrupted pre-seasons for the majority of Fremantle's midfield meant the on-ball group would be well placed from round one.
"We've been very fortunate; the players are fit and available and we've had a really good prep," he said.
"Our philosophy is always about getting good minutes in and not resting too many players.
"Most players have played three or four games so really ready for that first hit-out."
Aaron Sandilands is a ruckman in NAB AFL Fantasy. He averaged 92.92 points in 2012. Register your team at our AFL Fantasy Hub.