PROMISING Fremantle midfielder Connor Blakely has a ready-made build for AFL football and has earned his way into the Dockers' team for the first NAB Challenge against Melbourne on Thursday night, teammate Michael Barlow says.

Blakely was recruited with pick No. 34 in last year's NAB AFL Draft and is the only first-year player to be named in Fremantle's 29-man squad.

The Dockers did not play a single first-year player in last year's NAB Challenge series and Michael Apeness was the only 2013 draftee to play in the season proper, appearing just two games.

Brady Grey has also been named to play his first game for the club on Thursday night, but he was drafted in 2013.

Blakely has been likened to David Mundy in his build and the way he roams through the midfield with ease.

He has been very impressive in the Dockers' match simulation sessions and two practice matches, and Barlow said he was an exciting inclusion in the squad.

"Connor has got that ready-made build for AFL footy," Barlow said. 

"Obviously he's got a lot potential to grow into his body and put on some weight and improve his endurance, but he's come in with a really good base and he's shown some really, really positive signs through the intra-club games.

"He has a hardness at the ball, and his ability to learn … he's a bit like a sponge. He just asks questions and wants to know what he's doing right and where he can improve all the time.

"He's made a real impression on the rest of the playing group and obviously on the coaching staff and the match committee with his inclusion tomorrow."

The Dockers' first-round draft pick from 2014, Lachie Weller, has also impressed and Barlow said he would be surprised if he did not play in either of the next two NAB Challenge matches despite not being named for Thursday's clash with Melbourne.

A number of the Dockers' first-choice midfield looks set to play on Thursday with the exception of two-time best and fairest Nat Fyfe, premier tagger Ryan Crowley and veteran wingman Danyle Pearce.

Barlow believes the midfielders will each get 70 to 80 minutes of game time.

With ruckman Aaron Sandilands, defenders Zac Dawson and Garrick Ibbotson also missing the first NAB Challenge clash, Barlow said the entire squad was nervous about the squeeze for spots for round one.

"This time of year is as tense and as anxious as you'll get all season because everyone has had a really good summer and we've seen some real emergence from some younger players as well as players that have been around awhile and have really taken their game to another level," he said.

"From top down, I know Matthew Pavlich talks about it, he never feels comfortable with his spot in the side, so he always wants to get better and improve."