Fremantle midfielder David Mundy has backed developing ruckman Zac Clarke to lead the club into September if Aaron Sandilands needs more time to recover from facial surgery.
Clarke has enjoyed a breakout season for the Dockers, leading the ruck in the absence of injured pair Sandilands and Jonathon Griffin.
In just 13 games, the 23-year-old has already set new personal bests in hit-outs (21 per game), disposals (14 per game) and contested possessions (eight per game).
Sandilands underwent surgery this week after suffering a fractured cheekbone against Melbourne on Sunday.
It is the latest in a series of injuries for the 211cm giant, who missed the first half of the season with a hamstring injury.
He is expected to return against St Kilda next week, but Mundy said the Dockers would be more than comfortable with Clarke leading the ruck if Sandilands needed more time to recover.
"We've got no qualms if Aaron doesn't come up at all," he said.
"We've got no issue with Zac taking the number one ruck mantle into the finals.
"I think Aaron started forward on the weekend. Zac was in the ruck.
"So Zac's obviously stood up this year. He's continually improving and playing his role."
Fremantle goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne was also injured against the Demons, but is expected to recover from a shoulder injury in time to face Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium this Saturday.
"It looked like he was going to be out for three years the way he reacted," Mundy said.
"But Ballas is up and about and joking amongst the boys.
"I'm not entirely sure medically where he is at but he's pretty confident."