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Shortage of talls not a worry, says Freo defender

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Our No.1 priority is getting (Hogan) right to be able to come back and play
Joel Hamling

FREMANTLE'S dream unveiling of boom recruit Jesse Hogan will have to wait, but Joel Hamling is confident the Dockers still have enough quality tall targets to trouble North Melbourne in round one. 

With Hogan sidelined indefinitely as he deals with anxiety, the Dockers are expected to give Matt Taberner until Sunday to prove he is ready to play following a calf setback in their JLT Community Series finale on March 10.

Previously out-of-favour forward Cam McCarthy is also in line to face the Roos after being overlooked for the 26-man squads in both practice games.

'OPEN-ENDED' TIMELINE Freo won't hurry new forward's return 

"By no means are we worried that we don't have enough tall forwards down there, we've got guys who can cover," Hamling said.

"I think Matt will play. We'll see if he comes out on Sunday." 

The Dockers went all-in during last year's NAB AFL Trade Period to secure Hogan from Melbourne and former Giants big man Lobb to boost their firepower.

Hogan was building towards the season opener coming off a navicular stress fracture, but has not been considered after a heavy drinking session last Saturday night meant he was in an unfit state to train the following day.

"As a player, especially in this game with social media and everything involved, the hardest part for him is his mental health," Hamling said. 

"For us, our No.1 priority is getting him right to be able to come back and play, and play his best.

"Who knows when Jesse is back; one, two, three or four weeks, we're not too sure.

"He's going really well. He's in good hands. What's happened happened, he's dealt with that and moving on from there."

After a tumultuous lead-up and with concerns about their long injury list, the stakes have risen this Sunday as the Dockers aim to make the most of a favourable opening to the club's 25th season.

 

Coach Ross Lyon was adamant 2017 Doig medallist Bradley Hill, who ran laps at training on Wednesday, will overcome a corked calf in time to face the Roos, who knocked Freo over at Optus Stadium in round 10 last year.

Former Williamstown small forward Lachie Schultz is a strong chance to debut after goalsneak Brandon Matera was rubbed out for striking West Coast youngster Jake Waterman.

"He comes in really ready to go. He's in-and-under, he's a hard, little player, he plays exactly how we base our trademark on, so it's exciting if he gets a game," Hamling said.

Hamling is expected to stand Coleman Medal fancy Ben Brown after holding him to two goals in last year's corresponding fixture, but could need help from his fellow backmen given the new starting positions at centre bounces.

"There's a lot more space for the key forwards. It's not great for me, but it's great for supporters to watch," Hamling said.

"We don't have a plus-one anymore that tries to save me throughout the game."