FORMER Fremantle tagger Ryan Crowley would be capable of stepping straight back into AFL football as a potential Essendon top-up player, according to former teammate Garrick Ibbotson.
Crowley did not play at all in 2015 as he served a 12-month suspension for testing positive to a banned painkiller in July 2014.
Fremantle delisted him at the end of last season after 188 games for the club and a best and fairest award in 2012.
Crowley, 31, has been mentioned as a possible top-up player for the Bombers after they lost 12 current players for the entire 2016 season to doping suspensions.
Bombers coach John Worsfold was asked specifically about Crowley on SEN last week and he said no player had been ruled out as a top-up option.
Crowley signed a two-year contract to play for Swan Districts in the WAFL after the Dockers delisted him.
Ibbotson believes the veteran could easily step straight back into AFL football if he was needed.
"I think he'd go all right," Ibbotson said on Monday.
"He's always been a really fit guy so I don't think he would've lost a lot of that desire to play footy and fitness to play footy. I know that he loves to run.
"I think he'd really like the opportunity to play (in the AFL) again.
"I think he would've obviously liked to play footy here if he could have. But I think playing AFL footy would be great for him again."
Crowley trained diligently while serving his 12-month suspension in 2015 and was fit and available when his ban ended on the eve of the Dockers' preliminary final against Hawthorn but he was not selected.
Ibbotson also said there was still a place for quality taggers in AFL football despite the fact the Dockers went away from using a tagger in Crowley's absence last season.
"I think there's definitely room for a tagger," Ibbotson said.
"Ryan has played footy before without tagging so he could play as a freewheeling mid."
The Dockers face Essendon in round 11 at Domain Stadium and Ibbotson said the game would be interesting if Crowley lined up for the Bombers, but added that they would not treat the game any differently to any other.
"We'll treat them like any other team," Ibbotson said.
"By the looks they're going to have some pretty good top-up players anyway. So I think they'll still be competitive. You can't take anybody lightly. It will be interesting game, especially if Ryan is playing.
"If he plays against us, he's the opposition. We'll be treating him the same as everybody else.
"But I'm sure after the game when everything is done and dusted we'll say hello and cross paths but that would be it otherwise."
Essendon has the opportunity to sign 10 top-up players as well as upgrade five rookies to its list for the 2016 season.