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Justin Chadwick

Darcy back for Dockers, Eagles hold fire on Ryan

Fremantle's Sean Darcy will return from a long-term injury to participate in the western derby. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

Fremantle big man Sean Darcy will make his AFL return in Saturday's western derby against West Coast, but Eagles flyer Liam Ryan won't be risked just yet.

Darcy hasn't featured at AFL level since round 18 last year, with an ankle injury ending his 2023 campaign early before being hampered by a knee problem over the summer.

The 25-year-old's comeback the Dockers to give Luke Jackson significant stints in attack - an important weapon for Freo as they attempt to increase their scoring power.

But Jackson will still be needed for regular stints in the ruck as well given that Darcy is still underdone.

"We will probably try to mix it up a little bit more than maybe we have in the past while Sean finds his form and fitness," Dockers coach Justin Longmuir said on Thursday.

"It will evolve. At this stage they'll mix it up in the ruck. Sean will spend a bit of time forward, but not a heap of time

"He's coming off a pretty limited prep if you look at his summer, so it will take a little bit of time for him to get back to the amount of ruck work that he did last year."

Fremantle will be without goalsneak Sam Switkowski (concussion), while fellow small forward Michael Frederick (hamstring) will be held back for another week.

West Coast premiership forward Ryan made his return from a second round of hamstring surgery via the WAFL last week.

Luke Shuey and Liam Ryan.
Liam Ryan (R) celebrates with Luke Shuey after a rare Eagles win in 2023. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Surprisingly, he played the match at half back, with his efforts helping the Eagles snap a 28-game WAFL winless streak.

West Coast coach Adam Simpson wants to give Ryan at least one more week in the WAFL before handing him a recall.

"We won't select him," Simpson said.

"This week he's due for another 80 minutes, maybe a bit more."

Dom Sheed (foot) could return against the Dockers, but Luke Edwards (concussion) and Callum Jamieson (hamstring) were ruled out.

The Eagles posted their first win of the season last week with an upset 39-point triumph over Richmond.

But they face a huge task to topple the Dockers, who have won the past five derbies and crushed West Coast by 101 points in round 22 last ye

That was no laughing matter for Simpson, who was at risk of losing his job in the wake of that defeat.

Fremantle will be aiming to bounce back from heartbreaking losses to Carlton and Port Adelaide, in which they coughed up a lead in the dying minutes of each game. 

Meanwhile, Dockers defender Jordan Clark has re-signed for a further three years which ties him to the club until 2028.

Clark was already contracted until the end of 2025, and jumped at the chance to secure his long-term future.

The 23-year-old was selected by Geelong with pick No.15 in the 2018 national draft, before being traded to Fremantle at the end of 2021.

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