Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow has put his hand up to make a shock appearance in Saturday night’s AFL clash with Melbourne in Darwin.
Barlow was expected to be sidelined for at least two more weeks after undergoing surgery on a fractured finger last week.
But the 28-year-old approached coach Ross Lyon earlier this week telling him of his eagerness to play against the Demons.
Fremantle had the bye last week, meaning Barlow might not even miss a single game with the finger injury.
“He came into the office (on Tuesday),” Lyon told the Seven Network.
“He’s really keen. He’s got really good movement in that finger. He’s optimistic.
“We’ll give him every chance. It’s more likely than unlikely to be truthful.”
Lyon confirmed veteran Matthew Pavlich would make the trip to Darwin, but the 34-year-old could be rested for the round-18 trip to Gold Coast, and the round-22 clash with GWS at Spotless Stadium.
Barlow’s earlier-than-expected recovery is a big boost to the Dockers, who have been forced to contend with a horror injury toll this year.
The Dockers currently have 19 players featured on their official injury list.
Although ruckman Jon Griffin (hamstring) and Barlow could return against the Demons, stars such as Nat Fyfe, Aaron Sandilands, Harley Bennell, and Michael Johnson are nursing serious injuries.
Goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne has escaped the carnage so far.
But he dismissed suggestions some players may opt to take their foot off the pedal in order to avoid becoming the latest casualty.
“My own philosophy is that if you worry about that too much, that’s when you get really hurt,” Ballantyne said.
“You take a backward step, and you get even more hurt.
“(We need to) still play the exact same way. Go as hard as you can.”
Surprisingly, Ballantyne has been able to avoid the team’s injury carnage despite his history of soft tissue injuries.
The 28-year-old has played every game this season, and he hopes that trend continues.
“I don’t want to jinx myself here, but this is the longest period of footy I’ve played in my career,” Ballantyne said.
The Dockers’ fledgling side showed much promise during recent wins against Essendon, Brisbane, and Port Adelaide.
But they were given a harsh reality check in their last game – a 48-point thrashing at the hands of Collingwood at the MCG.
Ballantyne said the players were keen to bounce back against Melbourne.