Fremantle assistant coach Brett Kirk says the club now has the midfield depth to match competition heavyweights Sydney, Collingwood and Geelong.
Speaking ahead of the round-one clash with West Coast tomorrow week, Kirk said the hunger of the midfield group had struck him in his first year at the club.
"They are a really coachable group, really driven, really hungry, with a good mixture of youth and experience," he said.
"We have added Danyle Pearce into that mix and someone like Nick Suban has been playing a bit through there in the pre-season.
"You only have to look at any of the other very good teams - Geelong, Collingwood, Sydney … they have got 10 or 11 guys who can go through there (the midfield) and there is no doubt we have got that now."
Kirk said he had seen great improvement in the midfield since he arrived at the club late last year.
"If you look at that group across the board, there are different sorts of players," he said.
"We have got some stronger bodies but there are also some other quick, outside-type players."
The Sydney premiership player all but ruled out Aaron Sandilands for the March 23 blockbuster opener, despite the big ruckman running strongly at Fremantle Oval yesterday.
Sandilands, who injured a hamstring in round one of the NAB Cup, appears likely to return in round two, against the Western Bulldogs, on April 6.
"He's still building through his rehab so I don't think he will be ready for round one, but he's really preparing to get himself right for the early part of the season," Kirk said.
"There is no doubt we would love to have Aaron out there, but Jon (Griffin) has played really well over the last couple of weeks and Zac Clarke stepped up on the weekend (in Mandurah)."Kirk said Fremantle had tried a number of players through the midfield over the pre-season but were fairly settled on a line-up.
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