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Fremantle star Nat Fyfe has been battling 'chest injury' for weeks

Fremantle superstar Nathan Fyfe has played the past month with a substantial chest injury that has required him to wear a protective vest to help him get through to a much-needed mid-season bye and rest.

WAtoday understands Fyfe has endured agonising pain with severe bruising high into his chest cavity since early last month.

The champion on-baller has been at the centre of constant speculation that his playing value and productivity has substantially declined this season on his return from a broken leg which saw him miss almost the entire 2016 season.

The 2015 Brownlow medallist's contract remains a priority for the Dockers, with Fyfe yet to announce whether he will re-sign with Fremantle beyond 2017.

Fyfe is a restricted free agent and is attracting offers well in excess of $1 million a season to leave Fremantle and continue his career, most likely in Victoria.

His price, and doubts over whether he can recapture his best form, appear to have prompted some Melbourne-based clubs to back out of the race for his signature.

The decision by these clubs, who have total player payment "war chests" available, to baulk in their bid for Fyfe has emerged as it is revealed that Fyfe has needed a spell for at least three weeks.

Across that stint the Dockers have lost to Adelaide on the road by a whopping 100 points, fallen by 20 points to Collingwood at home and then been trounced by Brisbane at the Gabba on Saturday.

The gun ball-winner wore a guard under his jumper, which was noticeable for the first time in the Dockers inglorious 57-point loss to last-placed Lions, when he gathered just 18 disposals from 11 kicks and seven handballs, with two first-half goals.

Fyfe has also nursed substantial bruising in his thighs after a torrid opening half of the season, with the first-year Dockers captain averaging around 26 disposals an outing as his side's second biggest possession-winner so far through the home-and-away campaign.

It is unclear if the one-time premier player of the league copped his heavy chest and thigh injury in a single collision, or if Fyfe accumulated soreness from a succession of hefty buffeting he has received as opposition outfits target the Dockers' play-maker.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon and his support staff are believed to have been constantly working on strategies to better protect their star clearance expert, as Fyfe boldly limped to his mid-season break.

Fyfe and the inconsistent Dockers will emerge from their bye this week with a potential do-or-die trip to Geelong for a clash with the powerhouse Cats on Sunday week.

Dockers management and Fyfe have constantly denied he has been nursing any injury.
Despite the injury, Fyfe has continued to collect hefty disposal totals, with around 60 percent of all his possessions won in a direct contest.

Fyfe's overall game time has dropped marginally from around 92 percent an outing up until the round five win over North Melbourne in Perth, to 86 percent a week since a loss to West Coast at the end of April.

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