Silvagni to the rescue

UPDATED: Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has backed Alex Silvagni to be a "seamless" inclusion in the team to play Richmond at the MCG on Saturday as the Dockers brace for a month without star defenders Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson.

Lyon said Silvagni was a vastly improved player since his arrival at the club. The 26-year-old has often been the tall defender left out of the Fremantle 22 since Zac Dawson's arrival.

He has played just 17 games in two-and-a-half seasons under Lyon, including two this year.

But Lyon last week spoke highly of Silvagni's input and said it had been a tough decision to exclude him for the return of McPharlin. Now with McPharlin and Johnson nursing medial ligament strains for a month, Lyon said Silvagni's time was coming.

Silvagni was on the plane to Melbourne today. He was joined by Clancee Pearce and Colin Sylvia, who will make his Dockers debut if selected in the final 22.

But there was still no room for Anthony Morabito to make his long awaited comeback from more than three years on the sidelines.

Lyon praised Silvagni's perseverance and character.

"He is very popular here," Lyon said. "When I walked through the door he was building his body, he couldn't do full training. Now he fully trains, he has built his body and there is some real method.

"He was a desperate defender but he has worked on developing a method and some skills and he has really improved.

"He stood up in a final for us at the MCG and I have got full confidence in Alex. He has done a really strong apprenticeship.

"His time will come, it is coming now and he will just fit in seamlessly, is what we think."

The Dockers must make at least two changes to the team that beat Adelaide last weekend and Lyon confirmed Morabito was among the contenders.

"He is under serious consideration," Lyon said.

"First and foremost our obligation is to win games of football and pick the best possible team.

"If romance was to purely come into it he would play this week but our objective is the four points. Is Anthony going to help us or not? Is he the best chance? And is he ready? I thought he jumped a level on the weekend.

"It was as well as I have seen Anthony play this year and clearly since I have been here, so it is exciting. He is working really hard. We have been banging in extra work to him and that flattened him out a bit for the WAFL.

"He is getting reward for work. I am sure if you ask Anthony he would say 'I am ready and I want to play this week', but he is like the others. He goes through a selection process based on our objective of winning the game."

Lyon urged the AFL to give its match review panel more scope and flexibility to deal with incidents like the Ballantyne bump.

"If there is going to be a review they need some flexibility in the gradings and interpretations I think," he said.

The West Australian

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