Fremantle have decided to play it safe with utility Tendai Mzungu, but Hayden Ballantyne is ready to go full throttle in Sunday’s AFL clash with Port Adelaide in Perth.
Mzungu, who hadn’t played since injuring his hamstring against Sydney on March 15, was named on the wing on Thursday when Fremantle released their 25-man squad.
But with the Dockers entering the match carrying a host of underdone players, Mzungu missed out on a spot in the final 22.
“We would love to have him in, and he is ready to go,” coach Ross Lyon said on Friday.
“But he has missed just a little too much for us to jump the queue.”
Ballantyne, who injured his calf in the same match, will resume against the Power in a much-needed boost for the Dockers.
Paul Duffield (ribs), Michael Barlow (ankle), Ballantyne, Nat Fyfe (hamstring), Nick Suban (hamstring) and David Mundy (ankle) all endured setbacks at some point during the pre-season.
But Lyon is adamant they will be ready to hit the ground running against the Power.
“We have a good handle on who has done the work,” Lyon said.
“It can’t just be about the last two weeks – if you have missed or not.
“Hayden Ballantyne hasn’t played the last two, but he’s done 99 per cent of the summer. We have a couple like that.”
Key forward Matt Taberner produced a strong performance in the club’s opening pre-season win against Melbourne, but grounded by achilles tendon soreness since.
Lyon said it was in the best interests of both the team and player to ease Taberner back through the WAFL this weekend.
“He’s ready to go but he won’t play (in the seniors),” Lyon said.
“We just think, as a young player, to miss nearly every practice game and then to throw him in would be unfair to him and the guys who have done the work.
“That’s the balancing act. The bona fides who have done the work will play.”
The Power have been boosted by the availability of ruckman Paddy Ryder and forward Angus Monfries after Tuesday’s not-guilty verdicts for 34 past and present Essendon players from the anti-doping tribunal.
In another big plus for the Power, Jackson Trengove (shoulder), Hamish Hartlett (groin) and Chad Wingard (knee) will return from injury.
The Power knocked Fremantle out of last year’s finals series and are tipped to be a serious contender for the flag this year.