Seven-times SANFL premiership coach Roy Laird has backed young Fremantle ruckman Jack Hannath to thrive in the western derby if he makes a shock debut to replace the injured Zac Clarke on Saturday.
Clarke limped from the track during training at Fremantle Oval yesterday morning and coach Ross Lyon told Seven News last night scans revealed minor ligament damage to his lower right leg.
"He is an outside chance to play but unlikely," Lyon said.
"It could be a week, it could be three weeks. We are pleased, it looked like an Achilles."
Clarke, 22, was expected to share the ruck duties with Jonathon Griffin on Saturday with three-times All-Australian Aaron Sandilands already ruled out with a hamstring injury.
Hannath, who arrived at the club through pick eight in last year's pre-season draft, will vie with veteran Kepler Bradley to fill the back-up ruck role.
Laird coached Hannath, 21, in the past two seasons at Central District and said he was physically and mentally ready.
"Importantly, he has played around bigger bodies now for two years," Laird said.
"He played in a SANFL grand final two years ago so he is well prepared. He has led our ruck stocks in a pretty tough competition so he should go in with some confidence."
Laird, who has led Centrals to nine grand finals in 10 years at the helm, also backed Hannath to have an impact in the forward line.
"He has got deceptive speed and he has been able to get out on the lead at times in our competition," Laird said.
"It is going to be a dramatic step up but he is a really good kick for his size. He is a very good kick at goal so if he gets a shot, most times he is going to convert."
However, Hawthorn premiership player and former Hawks and West Coast coach Ken Judge said Bradley's experience would likely give him the nod over the young South Australian.
"It would probably be a bit out of left field (to pick Hannath)," Judge said. "He (Bradley) does give them a couple of strings to their bow.
"He can actually do some reasonable stuff for them forward."
Captain Matthew Pavlich said Clarke's injury was not ideal.
"Zac competed really well in the game down in Mandurah against the Bulldogs so he was in line for selection but what we know is we have got some great back-up," Pavlich said.
"Certainly Kepler, he played most of the pre-season games.
"Jack Hannath has been around the mark and is one of the players that we drafted for this exact reason. He (Hannath) is a big body (and) he runs well.
"But whoever it is we just expect them to slot in and really perform for us."
Pavlich, who played just one pre-season match, said he felt good but saw West Coast as formidable opponents.He (Clarke) is an outside chance to play but unlikely." Ross Lyon
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