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Sylvia in frame for shock Dockers start (The West)
Colin Sylvia at the airport today. Pics: Nic Ellis/WA News

Fremantle recruit Colin Sylvia is in the frame for a shock selection for tomorrow night’s season opener against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium after flying out with the team yesterday.

The Dockers took a 25-man squad to Melbourne including 21 of the 22 players who played in last year’s grand final loss.

Nick Suban is missing through a one-week suspension.

Sylvia, Jack Hannath, Clancee Pearce and Tom Sheridan are the four new faces.

Fremantle haven’t sprung any surprises in their team, announced today.

Sylvia, Pearce and Clarke have all been named as a emergencies.

Jack Hannath got the nod to support Aaron Sandilands in the ruck, with Nat Fyfe, Hayden Ballantyne and Danyle Pearce all named despite being under slight injury clouds.

Fremantle will field 20 of the 22 who played in last year’s grand final loss to Hawthorn, with the suspended Nick Suban and Clarke replaced by Hannath and Tom Sheridan in the team.

Meanwhile, Collingwood resisted the urge to play Quinten Lynch or Ben Hudson in the absence of Jesse White and Ben Reid.

Jarrod Witts was named at full forward and will likely support youngster Brody Grundy against Sandilands.

Collingwood will unveil Sandringham Dragon Tom Langdon in the high stakes match, with former GWS Giant Taylor Adams also set to make his debut in black and white.

Lynch, Lachlan Keeffe and Tony Armstrong are the Magpies’ three emergencies.

Sylvia’s inclusion in the travelling party comes as a surprise after an underwhelming pre-season since joining the Dockers from Melbourne as a free agent last year.

He is expected to be named as an emergency when teams are announced this afternoon but a leg injury to midfielder Danyle Pearce may yet open the door for the former Demon.

Dockers coach Ross Lyon said Pearce had been in some doubt but is expected to play after getting through training yesterday.

The club will monitor Pearce’s fitness in the lead-up to tomorrow’s 4.50pm bouncedown and Lyon said he had full faith in Sylvia to perform if needed.

“We’ve got some flexibility to fine-tune things and see how everyone pulls up,” he said.

“He’s played two-and-a-half practice games, so he’s got about 260 minutes of AFL football.

“We know he has been interrupted, (but he has) finally got some continuity.

“Our expectations, like all players, is that he plays a role.”

Nat Fyfe (knee) and Hayden Ballantyne (cork) both travelled with the team and will be named in the 22.

Injured ruckman Zac Clarke also flew but will be named an emergency, with Lyon naming Hannath a certain starter as Aaron Sandilands’ ruck deputy.

Sheridan and Clancee Pearce appear to be fighting for the final spot against the Magpies.

Tomorrow night will be the first time that Fremantle play the prestigious opening game of the season.

They go into the game as $1.63 favourites with the bookies.

Collingwood have blown out to $2.30 after key position players Ben Reid and Jesse White were ruled out through injury.

It is the latest in a series of big games the club has played in since Lyon took the reins in 2012, something he said should hold the players in good stead come the business end of the season.

“If you play against quality consistently you get challenged more often and the more you’re stretched, the more you grow,” he said. “It’s a marquee game. It’s great for the whole club and in this case we feel that we’ve earned it and it’s an opportunity we need to take hold of. We need to play well on the big stage.”

Lyon said the Dockers would be trying to add some elements to their game this season, but denied there would be any drastic changes to how they go about their football.

“I’m an unabashed fan of the basics.” he said.

“We’ve mooted positional flexibility, some slight structural changes at stoppages, but at the end of the day it’s about winning the ball and using it well and when they’ve got it get it back off them,” he said.

Nat Fyfe and Cameron Sutcliffe.
The West Australian

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