TWO-TIME Brownlow Medal winner Nat Fyfe is ramping up his return to play following back surgery after an "exceptional week on the training track".
Fyfe hasn’t played all season after an off-season shoulder operation was complicated by an infection in pre-season, with Fyfe then undergoing back surgery in March.
The 30-year-old had hoped to return in six weeks after surgery with Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir indicating last week that may be as soon as round 10, in a best-case scenario.
Freo forward Matt Taberner is likely to miss the Dockers' round eight clash with North Melbourne due to a hamstring injury, with the club now listing him as two-to-fours week away.
"Nat had an exceptional week on the training track and is steadily making progress, while Matthew is also progressing," Executive General Manager of Football Peter Bell said on Monday.
"We’re just continuing to build with Nat, but he’s getting closer."
The Dockers have been flying in Fyfe's absence, sitting third with a 6-1 record after beating Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday by three points.
Fremantle will aim for its seventh win of the season against North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on Friday night, but may be without several players due to health and safety protocols.
On Monday, players trained on field in staggered groups of five. Players were not permitted to enter via the building upon arrival at training and wore masks while working out in a makeshift outdoor gym.
"Clearly, there’s a lot of Covid in the community and we have a shorter week with less time on field as well," Bell said.
"Today we made sure the players aren’t at risk, as much as we can control, by having some weights outside, players in small groups and doing their flush runs individually. It’s further mitigations to lessen the risk."
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Heath Chapman and Hayden Young both missed the past two games due to health and safety protocols but are expected to be available this Friday.
Ruckman Sean Darcy is also looking likely to return after entering concussion protocols following a head knock in the round six win over Carlton. Youngster Neil Erasmus may also come in calculations after a concussion sustained in the WAFL on April 24.