Freo gamble on stars
Michael Barlow trained yesterday with his broken thumb heavily strapped. Pic: Steve Ferrier/WA News

Fremantle have rolled the dice at the selection table with a top-four finish on the line, naming Michael Barlow and Matthew Pavlich for their season-defining battle against Port Adelaide at Patersons Stadium tomorrow.

However, question marks remain over whether Barlow, who has missed just one game since breaking his left thumb against Hawthorn in round 21, will take the field.

The 26-year-old was a surprise inclusion yesterday after coach Ross Lyon declared him an unlikely starter during the week.

Dockers general manager of football operations Chris Bond cast further doubt with a reserved explanation of Barlow's chances following the team announcement.

"Michael Barlow, we're going to give every chance to, to see if he's able to get through, how he's pulled up from training and get through the next couple of days," he told the club's website.

Pavlich (thigh) trained with the squad yesterday and comes straight back into the side after being a late withdrawal against Brisbane last week.

Matt de Boer and Garrick Ibbotson were omitted.

Port Adelaide have made just one change to the side which beat Carlton last Friday, bringing in running defender Jarman Impey for Cameron O'Shea (omitted).

The Power will play finals for the second year in a row but they must beat Fremantle to earn the double chance.

The team's absence from finals from 2008 to 2012 has given the impression Port are an inexperienced team.

But the Power have 10 players who have already played 100 games.

Ruckman Matthew Lobbe, 25, has played only 63 games but said their list was more mature than a lot of people realised and the players felt poised to strike.

"There's been a couple of boys recently who have had mile- stones," Lobbe said.

"There's definitely a lot of experience in the group. We'll need to rely on that in the big games.

"Last year we were just excited to be playing finals.

"The last couple of weeks we've got back to playing football the way we want to play."

Lobbe has played only two games against Fremantle and has never rucked against Aaron Sandilands.

The Fremantle star will have an 11cm height advantage but Port Adelaide came from behind to beat the Dockers in round eight after subbing out their only ruckman - Brent Renouf.

The 197cm Jackson Trengove moved from defence into the ruck in the final term and had an impact as a more mobile player.

Lobbe is 200cm and ranked sixth in the AFL this year for tackles, so his ability to compete when the ball hits the ground has been a highlight.

Fremantle will be without Nat Fyfe from their midfield and Lobbe said that made it even more vital to stop Sandilands from having clear access to the ball at stoppages so it could become a contested game.

"I'm excited about the chall- enge," Lobbe said. "He's been the best ruckman in the comp for a long time.

"We're going to have to come up with some different strategies. I've got a lot of confidence in our midfield group and the way we go about it.

"We're going to bring our best defensive midfield game and that will put us in the best position to get the ball where we want it.

"We know the big games come down to the battle of the midfield. We've got to give our forwards the best opportunity."

The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

More from The West