Fremantle has been hit by a trio of cruel injury blows ahead of their blockbuster clash with fellow premiership aspirant Brisbane on Sunday.
Matt Taberner was taken out of their game against Melbourne on Saturday after suffering back spasms and hasn’t recovered in time to face the Lions.
He has been joined by Michael Walters and Heath Chapman on the injury list.
Chapman injured his hamstring at Fremantle’s main training session at Cockburn on Thursday while Walters also has a hamstring issue and has been with the rehab group since Thursday.
Walters missed the trip the club’s loss to the Gold Coast last month because he was in COVID isolation, but returned just days after emerging to face Collingwood and played again against the Demons.
General manager of football Peter Bell said the club won’t know the extent of Chapman’s injury until it receives the results of scans.
“Unfortunately, Heath will be unavailable to play against Brisbane after sustaining a hamstring injury at training on Thursday,” he told the club website.
“He will undergo scans in the coming days which will provide clarity on the extent of the injury.
“Michael has some tightness and awareness in his hamstring, so he was decided not to risk him this week.”
Taberner was listed as a test after not finishing the Demons game and Bell said earlier this week he would need to make “significant improvement” to be fit to play.
The towering key forward has already missed five games this season, including a hamstring injury which kept him out for three weeks last month.
“He had some back spasms very late in the game, so we took him from the field, he has pulled up a bit stiff and sore, he has had a bit of a history at times with these types of incidents, a bit slow to go earlier in the week,” Bell said on Monday.
Forgotten Dockers Nathan Wilson, Connor Blakely, Mitch Crowden and Ethan Hughes have all been added to the extended bench, along with back-up ruck option Lloyd Meek and first-year midfielder Neil Erasmus.
Michael Frederick, who starred in the shock upset over Melbourne and Bailey Banfield who replaced Taberner as a fourth-quarter injury substitute complete the bench.
If selected, it would be the first game of the year for either Blakely, Hughes or Wilson, with the latter pair being the like-for-like options for Chapman.
Walters’ absence could see Banfield recalled to the starting 22.
For Brisbane, Hugh McCluggage will return as part of an extended bench which also includes potential inclusions Tom Berry, Tom Fullarton and Rhys Mathieson.
It was revealed earlier in the week that dual-Brownlow Medallist and club captain Nathan Fyfe would make his return to football in the WAFL, rather than in the senior side.
It is the first time in a decade that the superstar midfielder has featured in the State league and is his Peel Thunder debut.
It comes 10 months after he was sidelined by a shoulder injury, a period in which he also underwent back surgery after a complication.
More to come.