Docker Morabito s return close
Anthony Morabito. Pic: WA News

Luckless midfielder Anthony Morabito could make his long-awaited return in Fremantle's NAB Challenge clash against the Western Bulldogs in less than a fortnight.

Club officials are considering reintroducing the 22-year-old to competitive football in the second round of the pre-season competition, and the hit-out at Etihad Stadium on February 26 is pencilled in.

The West Australian understands the 2009 No.4 draft pick is on the verge of meeting every internal goal needed to resume playing.

Fremantle have stuck to a cautious approach with Mora- bito since he had his third knee reconstruction early last year.

The on-baller has spent large chunks of time at training working on change-of-direction drills away from the main group.

The club is almost ready to release the shackles.

Fremantle stoppages coach Mark Stone said the club was "still ticking boxes" with Mora- bito.

"We're letting him full-train," he said.

"He's only really done one week of full training, as in team training and competitive drills, things like that.

"It's just cautious, step by step, with Anthony.

"We'll let him do some full weeks of training and see how we go."

It is believed the Bulldogs game has been viewed as the best opportunity to ease Morabito back into a match situation despite the game being played outside Perth.

He will have three weeks of full training under his belt by that point and would almost certainly be used as a substitute or off the interchange bench with limited game time.

Both of the club's two other pre-season matches are against West Coast.

The first of those will be played at Arena Joondalup on Tuesday.

Morabito opted for a "hybrid" LARS knee reconstruction in January last year after his left knee gave way for a third time.

The Dockers have stuck by their first-round pick, who showcased his potential during his debut 2010 season when he played 23 games and kicked 13 goals as a line-breaking wingman.

Morabito has experienced a horror run since his knee first collapsed at training in December that year. He managed seven league matches with WAFL club Peel on return during 2012 before the anterior cruciate ligament ruptured for a second time.

The knee buckled for a third time while attempting to tackle teammate Tanner Smith at training last year.

It prompted Morabito to try the alternative of LARS surgery after first seeking advice from other knee-injury victims.

Ryan Crowley, Tendai Mzungu and Nick Suban are due to return to full training next week but are not expected to be selected for Tuesday's NAB Challenge fixture.

The West Australian

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