PREMIERSHIP defender Joel Hamling could miss the rest of the season but Fremantle veteran Stephen Hill is on track to make his long-awaited playing return next week.

Hamling hasn't played since seriously damaging his left ankle in the Dockers' round one loss to Melbourne.

It was the same ankle Hamling dislocated last year, with that injury resulting in him undergoing two separate surgeries and missing the entire 2020 campaign.

Hamling's progress from his latest injury has been slow, with no timeline set on the return of the former Western Bulldogs ace.

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Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said there was a chance Hamling might not play again this year.

"There's always a chance," Longmuir said.

"We hope that's not the case. But it's not progressing the way we want it to progress.

"I can't sit here and give a definitive time. He's got to progress his training over the next month and then we'll assess it from there."

Joel Hamling celebrates a win against Sydney in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Hill has been plagued by soft-tissue injuries in the recent years, with a hamstring tear keeping the 31-year-old out of action so far this season.

He has not played in the AFL since round 18 last year.

The 218-game veteran has recently returned to full training and he's on track to get some minutes for Peel Thunder in the WAFL next week.

Key defender Alex Pearce, who injured his knee in round one, will play his third straight WAFL match – this time on full minutes.

"He's tracking really well. I've seen a real shift in his confidence," Longmuir said of Pearce.

"He got through the game really well last week.

"He'll play again at Peel on the weekend, full minutes this week, and we'll assess where it takes him after that."

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Longmuir is confident spearhead Matt Taberner (ankle) and key defender Griffin Logue (calf) will be fit to return for Sunday's crunch clash with the Bulldogs in Perth.

"They'll do some training today. We'll give them until game day to prove themselves, but we're really confident they'll both come up," Longmuir said.

"To give us another tall in front of the ball and another key behind the ball is really important.

"We missed those two last week."

Fremantle's list has been plagued by lower leg injuries in recent years.

Longmuir said they are still investigating why that has been the case and suspects playing and training on different grounds during the season could be a cause.

"One thing (we could try), and we haven't introduced it yet, is does training on different surfaces during the pre-season help you adjust in-season? That's something we'll look at," he said.