Freo will have to do without Matthew Pavlich for a few more weeks
FREMANTLE faces another few weeks without injured star Matthew Pavlich, with coach Ross Lyon declaring the Dockers captain is unlikely to return straight away after the bye.
Pavlich has not played since Achilles surgery after Fremantle's round three loss to Essendon.
Lyon said Pavlich, small forward Michael Walters (ankle), and ruckman Aaron Sandilands (hamstring) were all progressing well, but each would be monitored carefully and none would be rushed back.
Lyon said Pavlich was unlikely to face the Brisbane Lions in round 12.
"Probably unlikely for Brisbane," Lyon said on Wednesday.
"But then from there it'll start to heat up … Michael would be more likely to come straight back in.
"We'll be guided by Matthew and Aaron as to where they think they're at, particularly Matthew.
"I can't stand here and give you a definitive answer on the time-frame or when they will come back ultimately, because they've had setbacks along the way that's really disrupted my line of thinking.
"We've got a bit of work to do yet."
Lyon suggested Pavlich might even come back via the WAFL if necessary.
The six-time All Australian and six-time best and fairest winner has not played in the WAFL since a sole appearance for South Fremantle in round one 2000.
"We would consider the WAFL," Lyon said.
"Luke Hodge came back through (VFL), I think Daniel Kerr might have (come back via the WAFL).
"The game has changed, it’s high intensity. I think once you are looking at 10 or 12 weeks out, it’s an option."
"He still has got plenty of milestones to jump over. I think we all need to cool our jets a little bit," Lyon said.
"He’s been through three reconstructions. I don’t think he trains for four weeks and you go, 'he’s back in two'.
"I don’t think it works like that."
Despite being so depleted, Fremantle's performances have been staggering in the first 10 rounds of the season.
The Dockers are undefeated in their past six matches, including a draw against the Swans.
It is the club's second-longest unbeaten streak behind the nine straight wins achieved under Chris Connolly in 2006 when Fremantle reached a preliminary final.
The seven wins and a draw through 10 rounds this season is bettered only by the eight wins achieved in the first 10 rounds in 2010. Fremantle finished sixth that year.
But Lyon was keen to keep a lid on expectations.
"We've worked hard to put ourselves in a decent position. But as I said yesterday, there's strong lessons from last year," he said.
"Essendon were (8-1), much hyped, and ran into some injury and some form (issues), and ultimately missed the finals.
"So we understand we're only six points clear of eighth.
"We understand our members and fan base are really pleased with how we are going at the minute, as we are.
"But it's such a fragile existence as history tells you. You start talking about future results you fall in a heap quickly."
Only 16 players will remain at the club this week, including those playing in the WAFL and those in injury rehab.
Lyon has given the majority of the playing group a week off.
"It's a bit of a mental freshener for everybody without the preparation for an AFL opposition.
"It's a nice relief."