Fremantle Dockers recruit Jeremy Sharp at pre-season training (Image via Fremantle FC)

After failing to meet the top eight expectations set at the start of this year, the pressure on Fremantle and coach Justin Longmuir to respond to their dour 2023 campaign is being met with a heated pre-season.

Speaking to media on Monday morning, seasoned off-season recruits Oscar McDonald and Jeremy Sharp both made mention of the lifted pre-season standards during their ongoing pre-Christmas training period, made more intense by the scorching West Australian heat.

"It's been awesome, training's been pretty intense from the get-go," McDonald highlighted.

"Everyone's been really welcoming and supportive so can't ask for a better start.

"Trying to climatise to the heat I guess... it is a bit of an adjustment but one that's definitely worthwhile."

The Dockers made headlines recently by inviting Olympian Peter Bol to join the pre-season trial runs in an innovative attempt to improve pace, perhaps speaking to a theme of improvement at the Dockers heading into 2024.

Longmuir and the Fremantle coaching staff would be feeling the pressure after missing the eight and suffering a poor off-season; losing one of their most important forward troops in Lachie Schultz to Collingwood.

Fremantle Dockers recruit Oscar McDonald at pre-season training (Image via Fremantle FC)

It appears Fremantle are well aware that their improvement will only come from within; through lifted training standards and player development.

As mentioned by McDonald and Sharp, the Dockers boast a group of young talent matched by few other sides in the competition, with Andrew Brayshaw, Michael Frederick, Caleb Serong, Hayden Young, Luke Jackson, Heath Chapman, Josh Treacy and Jye Amiss all under 25 years of age.

Add Brennan Cox, Sean Darcy, Sam Switkowski, Luke Ryan and Alex Pearce to this group as the core experienced veterans, and the potential on the playing list is glaring.

"Obviously the backline, Pearcy (Alex Pearce), Coxy (Brennan Cox) and (Luke) Ryan... it'll be good to get to know how they work together and they play... definitely want to get to know them better," McDonald said of his new teammates.

"Its a good mix of both energetic youth and experience... hopefully I can add to both," he added.

"You can just tell there's so much vibrancy around the club, it shows on the training track."

22-year-old Sharp adds to the list of young talent ready to shine with more experience, especially after his efforts running at the tail of Bol in the team's time trials.

"(It's a) very exciting group, lots of good, really experienced players and then youth as well is probably as good as you'll get in the competition, so to come in and see that first hand has been really cool to see," he shared.

We are still months away from seeing gameday improvement reveal itself by Round 1, 2024, and with the competition as even as we've ever seen, the margins between a top eight finish and another failure have never been thinner.