The concussion suffered by Anthony Morabito in a WAFL match last Sunday was a significant factor in him not making his long-awaited AFL return from a serious knee injury tomorrow, Dockers coach Ross Lyon said yesterday.
Fremantle will face Collingwood's elite engine room at the MCG tomorrow minus their own three best young midfielders - Morabito, Stephen Hill (ankle) and Nat Fyfe (long-term shoulder injury).
Morabito, who hasn't played in the AFL since 2010, was carried from Fremantle Oval late in Sunday's game between South Fremantle and Peel.
After an investigation Souths' Toby McGrath received a three-match ban for striking.
With Morabito unavailable, the door opened for utility player Dylan Roberton, who was included with Hayden Ballantyne. Jesse Crichton was dropped and an ill Hayden Crozier was ruled out.
Lyon said Morabito had been close to selection. "Clearly the concussion didn't help," he said. "It certainly hindered his week. He wasn't able to train fully today."
Lyon challenged Ballantyne to harness his talents in the right manner in his return from a second suspension of the year.
"I can't speak for Hayden. The proof is in the pudding," Lyon said. "He is certainly eager and we would rather have him available.
"No use having your talented players in the grandstand through injury or suspension.
"We would like to think he can harness his enthusiasm in the right manner and be really productive for us this weekend.
"Good teams and players measure themselves against quality. Clearly Collingwood are quality. Let's see what Hayden can bring to the table."
Fremantle will take Tom Sheridan and Lee Spurr as their travelling emergencies.
Collingwood did an Irish exchange, dropping Marty Clarke to include Caolan Mooney. They also left Tom Young out for key- position prospect Jackson Paine.
Lyon, who coaches in his 300th AFL match (including NAB Cup games) to qualify for AFL life membership, said Fremantle's third emergency, Michael Walters, had narrowly missed selection.
"Internally he has come a long, long way and all done off of his own steam," he said.
"From where he was to where he is now is a credit to him. He is really keen and enthusiastic and happy that he is making progress.
"For him to play senior football before the end of the year is going to be a great credit to him.
"He is making real progress and we were real close to picking him so that is really exciting for him."
Lyon expects Hill and Zac Dawson (knee) to play against the Western Bulldogs at home next week.
"They were pretty close. Not as close as we would like," he said. "They will get another week and another opportunity. We are really hopeful that both of them will get through for next week."
Lyon welcomed the prospect of playing the Magpies at the MCG."The reality is they are a benchmark team," he said. "You like to play the best and get a measure of where you are at. We look forward to getting back to the MCG in similar conditions, wet and cold."
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