Barlow will be back with a bang: Harvey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Barlow will be back with a bang: Harvey

Justin Chadwick 28/02/2011 05:44:32 PM Comments (0)

Fremantle coach Mark Harvey is adamant gun midfielder Michael Barlow will return to his blistering best this AFL season - even if he has to do it with a slight limp.

Barlow, who established himself as one of Fremantle's best players in 2010 after being snared as a mature-age rookie, broke his leg in horrific fashion last year and is still at least two months away from returning to playing duties.

Although Barlow's leg has healed, he is still yet to join in at full training, with Fremantle's medical staff wary of the increased risk of soft tissue injuries after such a long layoff.

Harvey said he was pleased with Barlow's progress and was confident the 23-year-old wouldn't be hindered by any lingering effects from the broken leg.

"You look at (Richmond captain) Chris Newman and those sort of guys (who have also broken their leg) - with technology these days I don't think it will be an issue," Harvey said.

"His running gait - he looks like he runs with a limp anyway.

"He's just got a high tempo. He wasn't an up-on-his toes jumper or anything like that. I think he'll overcome it quite quickly."

Harvey predicted Barlow might be available for selection sometime in early May, but that return date could fluctuate dramatically depending on how Barlow pulls up from training over the coming month.

"All I can say is that he's really stepping up his running. I would envisage that in the next couple of weeks he will join in training and then we'll be able to assess things more once he joins in football training," Harvey said.

"Why it's hard to give an estimate of when he's playing is because of all the soft tissue around his leg that he may have issues with in his comeback.

"I think we've got the bye in round six, so we'd like to think that somewhere in and around those areas he'll be available for selection, whether it be WAFL or AFL.

"As I said, you only need a small hiccup with that type of injury and you can be back another couple of weeks."

Harvey said forward Hayden Ballantyne, who missed last season's finals due to a serious foot injury, and Stephen Hill were on track for round one despite their limited pre-season.

"(Ballantyne) and Hill and these sorts of guys don't need a hell of a lot of training," Harvey said.

"They're lucky that their equipment brings them up really fast, so it's not a huge issue, those guys, for us."

But the Dockers' depth will be tested early with defender Roger Hayden (foot) and Garrick Ibbotson (ankle) still on the sidelines and young gun Anthony Morabito (knee) ruled out for the season.

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