FREMANTLE captain Matthew Pavlich will have Achilles tendon surgery on his left foot and be sidelined for four to six weeks after the injury resurfaced in last Friday night's loss to Essendon.
The veteran had off-season surgery to correct the same issue on his right foot, as well as back and hip operations, but he has since made a slow start to the season, kicking two goals and averaging 13 possessions in three games.
"If you want to get really technical it's not the Achilles it's the plantaris, which is minor," Fremantle coach Ross Lyon explained on Thursday.
"He trained today. He tried to train. We picked a team with him in. He started the year really healthy and then got some general soreness through the Achilles, which he was playing with and playing reasonably well.
"Then on the weekend he obviously struggled. During that game it got worse. But we were still confident because he's been in this position before.
"But we had plenty of time for it to settle down. In the background we did some referencing with the appropriate people. He attempted to train today and started OK but it got to the point where he wasn't comfortable with it and neither were we.
"I just said 'look you've done so much for this club over a long period. We really don't want to put you in a position where you're vulnerable and the team is vulnerable'. So post then we went and sat down and spoke about the procedure and what's required and he'll get it done.
"It's not ideal. It is what it is."
Fremantle flew out of Perth for its clash against Hawthorn at Aurora Stadium on Saturday, with Jack Hannath, Tanner Smith, Hayden Crozier and Lachie Neale all in the travelling group. The three have been named as emergencies.
Luke McPharlin has been cleared to play after being subbed out of last week's match with concussion.
"It's a great opportunity for us to prove that we can play really good football without Matthew, which I'm really confident about. We've done it before and I'm sure we'll aim to do it again over the ensuing weeks," Lyon said.
"Juxtaposed to that we'd love Matthew back as early and as fit healthy as he can be."