FREMANTLE'S diminishing tall stocks have been boosted after Rory Lobb's expected season-ending foot injury was revealed to be not as severe as first thought.
It appeared Lobb would miss the remainder of 2019 after reporting soreness following the thrilling MCG victory over Collingwood, the same game in which star full-back Alex Pearce went down with a fractured ankle.
But the former Giant could be back around the time the Dockers host Sydney in round 18 and play a role in the finals push.
FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?
"Some great news on Rory. Our initial scans and clinical review indicated that stress was a key factor in his injury," high performance manager Jason Weber said.
"A subsequent review with a specialist identified that it was in fact an impact injury.
"On that basis, we've been able to revise his program and get him moving, so we are looking at about four weeks.
"Clinically, at the moment he presents really well and he's progressing really well through his program."
Despite preferring to play mainly as a forward, Lobb has impressed leading the ruck (24.5 hitouts per game) this season, with his mobility and impact around the ground (13.6 disposals) offering the midfield a different dimension.
Fremantle could unleash him alongside Sean Darcy on the run home after the youngster staked his claim against Port Adelaide duo Scott Lycett and Paddy Ryder last Saturday.
Darcy was pivotal in Fremantle running over the Power, winning six hitouts to advantage in the final quarter as the Dockers dominated clearances 15-3 and kept Port scoreless to secure a third straight win and improve to 7-5 this season.
Fremantle could also regain veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands (calf) before the end of the year, with the 36-year-old aiming to play his first game since last June close to round 18.
"Aaron's progressed back into team training," Weber said. "He's also done some really strong training over the weekend in game simulations.
"He's progressing strongly and he's very positive on the next phase of his program."
Second-year midfielder Adam Cerra has recovered from illness and will put his hand up to come straight back into the side against Melbourne at the MCG this Saturday.
The Dockers also expect last year's top draftees Sam Sturt (concussion) and Luke Valente (groin) to line up for Peel against Perth.
Sturt has not played since suffering his second concussion of the year two months ago.
Valente was forced to tweak his running style over pre-season after arriving at the club with groin issues and has managed just five WAFL appearances.