Dockers injury list improves
Dockers injury list improves

Fremantle's push for a top-two finish is gathering momentum, with a swag of star players nearing a return from injury.

The Dockers are outright second favourites in premiership betting behind Sydney at $3.25 with the TAB after recording their seventh straight win and fellow contenders Hawthorn and Port Adelaide losing.

Fremantle are set to welcome back Matthew Pavlich for Sunday's clash with Greater Western Sydney at Patersons Stadium after the captain was a late withdrawal from the 63-point win over Melbourne with illness.

Strongly-built teenager Michael Apeness is almost certain to make way for Pavlich after managing just five disposals in his debut.

Last year's All-Australian Michael Johnson will also push for selection after four weeks out with a knee injury.

"He will have to do the week and get through and hopefully jump all the hurdles and then we can pick him," coach Ross Lyon said on 6PR last night.

Matt de Boer, who had missed just one game in three seasons under Lyon until he injured his left knee at training before the round-11 clash with the Western Bulldogs, also did his chances of a recall no harm with a solid display in his second game for Peel Thunder.

The leadership group member gathered 23 possessions, laid six tackles, registered three inside 50s and kicked a goal from outside 50m, playing up forward and through the midfield in the Thunder's loss to East Perth.

Royals coach Brian Dawson said de Boer was a prominent contributor throughout.

"He was strong and hard over the footy," Dawson said.

"I thought he was probably one of their better players."

Lyon also confirmed Stephen Hill (quad) would not return until the clash with Carlton in round 19.

And as competition for spots intensifies, Fremantle have taken comfort from Luke McPharlin's incident-free return against the Demons from three weeks out with a knee injury, while Anthony Morabito has been guaranteed a second consecutive appearance at AFL level after playing as the substitute in his return.

Michael Walters could return from his long-term ankle injury for the July 31 game against Carlton and will likely make his comeback as the substitute without playing at Peel.

The timing of the small forward's return will depend on his progress over the next fortnight.

The West Australian

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