FREMANTLE has opted to send Joel Hamling for surgery on his injured left ankle in a move the club hopes will still allow him to play a "significant number of games" this season.
The Dockers revealed the extent of Hamling's ankle injury on Tuesday, confirming he had suffered a dislocation and would undergo surgery to repair damage to the medial ligament.
The 26-year-old went under the knife on Monday, one week after suffering the injury when he landed heavily on his left leg in a marking contest at training.
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"The advice we have from the specialist is that the surgery, which went very well, will not prolong Joel's recovery period," football manager Peter Bell told the club's website.
"Joel will have a period of immobilisation, after which we will be better placed to determine a time frame for his return to full training.
"While we are taking a cautious approach, we are confident that Joel will still play a significant number of games this season."
Hamling's loss for the opening stages of the season is compounded by the absence of sidekick Alex Pearce, who is also recovering from follow-up surgery on his injured ankle.
Half-back Nathan Wilson (toe) is also expected to miss the start of the season.
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Meanwhile, Fremantle has reported an operating loss of $1,642,473 for 2019.
The club put the result down to a drop in membership, a restructure of club personnel – including the sacking of coach Ross Lyon and chief executive Steve Rosich – and increased investment in AFLW operations and grassroots football.
The Dockers' membership dropped from 55,639 in 2018 to 51,431 last season, with just under 45,000 fans signing on for the 2020 season so far.
New CEO Simon Garlick said the club was confident the financial result would be a one-off as it starts a new era under coach Justin Longmuir.
"While the loss of more than $1.6 million is significant, it was part of a conscious club reset, so we are confident it is a one-off," Garlick said.
"We look forward to continuing to build on our strong financial foundation, highlighted by being one of only a handful of AFL clubs to be debt free with positive cash reserves."