Fremantle's dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe could make his long-awaited comeback from injury in state league ranks this weekend.
Fyfe hasn't played an AFL game this season after having shoulder surgery last year.
The inspirational captain has been suffering what his coach Justin Longmuir describes as "multiple little niggles" during his recovery, the latest being back problems.
Longmuir says Fyfe could return in the WAFL this weekend, which would be his first state league game in 12 years.
"It's a serious consideration," Longmuir told reporters on Wednesday.
"He hasn't played footy for a long time now, he is coming off a significant shoulder injury but also multiple little niggles.
"And really the decision will come down to what gives Nathan the best opportunity to get back to his best form and finish off the year strongly and set him up for the second half of the season.
"That's the consideration. We need to have a look at him this week to be able to make that final call."
Fyfe will miss Fremantle's clash against reigning premiers Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday ahead of an expected return to AFL ranks the following week.
"There's a lot of factors that come into it but no-one knows Nathan's body better than Nathan so he will have a fair say in where he starts his footy," Longmuir said.
The fourth-placed Dockers have lost forward Sam Switkowski, who has been suspended for two games by the AFL tribunal for a dangerous tackle.
"Sam said after the hearing that he was disappointed in his actions and let his emotions and competitiveness get in the way of his clear thinking so he's disappointed ... he has let the team down," Longmuir said.
Freo enter the clash against the unbeaten Demons on a two-game losing streak with Longmuir pinpointing multiple forced changes to their line-up as the primary factor in their dip in form.
"You look at the amount of ins and outs we have had over the last three weeks, it has probably led to a bit of an unsettled team," he said.
"And the guys that missed through COVID probably haven't come back into the form that they would have liked.
"We have just had so much disruption to our forward line so we need to just settle our team down again and get some continuity and form back first and foremost.
"All we can do now is look forward and try and regain the cohesion we had prior to the last couple of weeks."
Australian Associated Press
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.