Freo ponder how to help struggling Walters

·2-min read

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir is determined to find a way to get Michael Walters back into the groove but switching the veteran into his preferred midfielder role is proving to be an almighty squeeze.

Walters was an All-Australian in 2019 during a year in which he alternated between the midfield and forward line.

That sparkling campaign yielded him 40 goals and an average of 21.8 possessions per game.

But a permanent switch to the forward line has seen his form plummet.

Walters is averaging only 13.5 possessions per game this season, and he's booted just 12 goals in 13 matches.

Switching Walters back to the midfield seems like an obvious answer.

But with Fremantle now boasting emerging midfield stars such as Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra, and Caleb Serong - along with in-form veterans Nat Fyfe and David Mundy - Longmuir is struggling to find room for Walters in the engine room for any significant period.

The competition for midfield spots is so hot that Connor Blakely can't get a game at the moment.

Walters tallied just four disposals in the first half of Saturday's 16-point loss to Carlton at the MCG.

The 30-year-old finished the match with nine disposals and a goal, and Longmuir concedes he needs to figure out how to get Walters more involved.

"It was an issue. We tried to put him up around the ball a little bit more in the second half and let him drift forward and create a bit of havoc from there," Longmuir said.

"I thought that worked alright, and it's something we'll look at.

"Our midfield is pretty set, so there's only a certain amount of blokes you can play through the midfield.

"I thought our midfield was dominating through those middle three quarters, so you're reluctant to change much there. We'll keep looking at ways we can get him into the game."

The loss to Carlton left Fremantle (7-8) half a win adrift of eighth spot.

The Dockers will be aiming to bounce back against Hawthorn in Nat Fyfe's 200th game in Launceston on Saturday afternoon.

They will return to Western Australia after the match.

Football boss Peter Bell said Fyfe had pulled up sore in his return from a dislocated shoulder but expected him to line up in his milestone match.

Meanwhile luckless key defender Joel Hamling was due to have season-ending ankle surgery on Monday evening.

The 28-year-old missed all of 2020 with an ankle injury and re-injured it on his AFL return against Melbourne in round one.

In better news, veteran Stephen Hill will look to return from a hamstring injury in the WAFL this weekend.

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