Fremantle coach Ross Lyon expects Michael Johnson to play in Saturday night’s preliminary final against Sydney but has ruled out Garrick Ibbotson.
Johnson, Fremantle’s only All-Australian in the team named last night, missed the qualifying final win against Geelong and trained away from the main group this morning, with his injured calf in a compression bandage.
But Lyon expects him to be ready for Saturday.
“He is progressing really well,” he said. “We expect him to train on Thursday and be up for selection.”
Ibbotson is less fortunate, with his Achilles tendon injury failing to recover in time.
Around 500 Dockers faithful turned out at Fremantle Oval for today's opening training session, at which Nick Suban, who came off with an ankle injury in the win over the Cats 10 days ago, trained fully. However, Ryan Crowley missed the session.
Lyon said he wasn’t disappointed more Fremantle players did not make the final All-Australian team.
But he did use the fact that three Sydney midfielders were named as a warning to all who think the Swans will be too tired and injured to beat Fremantle on Saturday and progress to a grand final.
Dan Hannebery, Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh, all stars in Sydney’s semi-final win against Carlton, earned All-Australian gongs.
“I often say, and not everyone agrees with it, that it's won and lost in the midfield,” he said. “You have to protect your defence and give your forwards supply.
"I don't think they've got too many injuries through the midfield. In actual fact, I think they've got none.
"So it's an incredibly big challenge. One we're excited about and one we're looking forward to, but it's going to be a big challenge.”
Lyon urged his team not to “back off” until the final siren on Saturday night.
“It is going to be a fierce challenge,” he said. “We are going to need to play to the end, play to the last minute and go to the wire. It is going to be a tough hard contest. They have shown, as we have, a great ability to adapt and improvise. Prelims are incredibly hard to win.”