Dockers run out of players
Dockers run out of players

And then there were none.

Fremantle were on the cusp of running out of players in fielding a squad for Saturday's clash with Western Bulldogs - and needed the help of the AFL to ensure they had the numbers.

The Dockers yesterday sought and were granted permission to elevate rookie squad members Hamish Shepheard and Casey Sibosado to the senior list and their rise enabled the club to take a 23-man squad to Melbourne this morning.

The wounded line-up suffered another blow when Rhys Palmer was ruled out of the match because of a groin complaint.

Injuries had already ravaged the Dockers, who had run out of senior list members, forcing them to ask the AFL for special dispensation to promote the rookies.

The Dockers' problems were compounded by the one-match WAFL Tribunal suspension handed to Ben Bucovaz earlier this week. Fremantle left town without Bucovaz because he was awaiting a decision on his appeal against the severity of the penalty for striking.

However, a plea to the WAFL Appeals Board succeeded in reducing the suspension to a reprimand, freeing him to line up for the Dockers.

Bucovaz was due to fly out of Perth this afternoon and would extend the Fremantle squad to 24 players.

Shepheard and Sibosado have yet to play an AFL match and under normal circumstances would not have been permitted to play in the senior league. But Fremantle's plight is so dire they needed the assistance.

Fremantle have also taken Justin Bollenhagen east without him playing a league match this season. He played three last year.

Dockers coach Mark Harvey confirmed that Palmer had also joined the club’s extensive injury list and would not line up against the Dogs.

Defenders Alex Silvagni and Antoni Grover were both in the squad in one small consolation for Fremantle fans.

“It’s interesting when you walk through the airport and people understand what you’re going through,” Harvey said.

“All they want you to do is win. That’s our only focus now.

“Whoever plays on Saturday … it gives them an opportunity to express themselves and to find out what they’ve got at this level.”

The West Australian

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