FREMANTLE defender Lee Spurr says the Dockers are eyeing a return to finals in 2017, and insists the playing group hasn't been distracted by a series of off-field incidents this pre-season.

The Dockers have been making headlines for the wrong reasons in recent months, with Michael Johnson and now retired Shane Yarran in the spotlight, but Spurr denied there had been any impact on preparations for the upcoming campaign.

"As a player you can only focus on what you can control - and that's how we train and how we prepare," Spurr said.

"I think we've been training really well, we've been training hard, running hard and executing really well on the track.

"So from a player's point of view, we're doing everything we can and what we can control and that's what we're focusing on.

"We're aiming to play finals – that's our goal – and as (coach) Ross (Lyon) has mentioned where you aim is where you land, so that's what we're trying to achieve." 

Fremantle was the first club to return from the Christmas break on Wednesday, kicking-off with a gruelling 3km time trial in sweltering conditions.

"It was really hot … but we saw some really good times and results from players," Spurr said.

"Everyone's come back really enthusiastic and really exuberant about what's possible and what we can achieve, so that's really exciting."

Injury-plagued star Harley Bennell is still working his way back from his latest calf flare-up and didn't run the time trial, but is showing promising signs after seeking treatment in Germany.

"Harley's in the gym doing a lot of work and he's doing a bit of work on the field, so he's progressing nicely and tracking really well," Spurr said.

Young backman Alex Pearce also remains in the rehab group but is looking "very fit" as he builds his way back from a broken leg, and will be a welcome addition alongside recruit Joel Hamling in defence after missing most of last season.

Tightening up defensively after a nightmare four-win 2016 has been a focus for Freo, and Spurr said the Dockers would "go back to what we value" after tweaking their game-plan last season.

"Defence is a mindset, it's a whole-team approach … and that starts on the training track over this little period here and how we want to approach it," he said.

"So far we've approached it really well."

Meanwhile, the Dockers are set to vote on their leadership group in the coming weeks and Spurr, a leader since 2014, believed Freo boasted some quality candidates coming through the ranks.

"We've seen the emergence of Lachie Neale and you see Stephen Hill, he just keeps stacking performances and improving, and Alex Pearce had a really good year (in 2015)," he said.

"There's a lot of young players that are displaying great qualities, and leadership's really something you learn.

"Even when you're in there you're still learning, that's what Pav (Matthew Pavlich) said he was still learning every year how to be a better leader.

"There's plenty of young players who can put their hands up."