Dockers sweat on Pavlich fitness
Fremantle Dockers captain Matthew Pavlich. Picture: Getty Images.

Coach Ross Lyon considers his captain Matthew Pavlich a 50-50 chance to play for Fremantle in tomorrow's mini final against North Melbourne under the roof at Etihad Stadium, but the star forward will line up if he declares himself fit.

Pavlich hasn't trained all week because of hamstring and Achilles problems and the Dockers responded to the doubt surrounding him by taking 25 players to Melbourne yesterday.

Lyon selected the 22 who beat Richmond last Saturday, but kept his options open by also flying the emergencies, ruckman Zac Clarke and versatile duo Dylan Roberton and Cameron Sutcliffe.

Pavlich struggled to shake off injury before last Saturday's match and suffered several knocks during the game. But with the Dockers needing to win to maintain their place in the eight, Lyon said Pavlich would play if he was confident he could perform.

"He has to say, 'Coach, I'm happy to play'," Lyon said. "We'll give him some physical stuff. He did some work today, he just didn't join in full training.

"That often happens at this time of year. He's in pretty good nick, so I'd expect him to play.

"We won't take anyone that can't perform. Once you nominate yourself, you're fully fit. That's the way it works.

"Matthew's been in a little bit of doubt. He's got some soreness. That's not unexpected for a 260-game player.

"Once you declare yourself, you're fully fit. So if we pick you and you declare yourself, there is no risk."

Clarke is likely to come into the team if Pavlich doesn't play.

Sixth-placed North Melbourne named an unchanged line-up.

They have rebounded from 12th on the ladder after losing to Hawthorn by 115 points in round 10 to win nine of their last 10 matches.

Fremantle are eighth, but risk dropping to ninth if they lose. The Dockers have played in only three finals series but have rocketed into the eight after winning six of their last seven matches.

Lyon said the entire club understood the significance of the match, just two weeks before the finals.

"North Melbourne are the form team of the competition," he said.

"They're not unlike Carlton in 99. They struggled in the first half and then just flew home, made it to the grand final and challenged.

"They've got three tall forwards, a powerful midfield and some really strong key defenders and running backs. They're full of confidence on their home ground and home support.

"It's a really big challenge in front of us but these are the games you want to be in.

"You want to test yourself, challenge yourself and see how much you've improved.

"We feel like we've made significant improvement."

Fremantle have won five road games in 2012 to equal their best-ever performance. They haven't lost at Etihad Stadium.

North Melbourne have a 10-2 record at Etihad Stadium and haven't lost at the ground since round seven.

But Lyon said he expected the same type of game regardless of where it was played.

"Everyone looks at those extraneous variables. I'm an anywhere, any time coach," he said.

  • AFL LADDER * <table border="1"> <thead> <tr> <td/> <td>P </td> <td>W </td> <td>L </td> <td>D </td> <td>For </td> <td>Agst </td> <td>PC </td> <td>Pts </td> </tr> </thead> <tbody> <tr> <td align="left">Sydney </td> <td>20 </td> <td>16 </td> <td>4 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2117 </td> <td>1415 </td> <td>149.6 </td> <td>64 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Hawthorn </td> <td>20 </td> <td>15 </td> <td>5 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2482 </td> <td>1568 </td> <td>158.3 </td> <td>60 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Adelaide </td> <td>20 </td> <td>15 </td> <td>5 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2125 </td> <td>1690 </td> <td>125.7 </td> <td>60 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Coll'wood </td> <td>20 </td> <td>15 </td> <td>5 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1961 </td> <td>1644 </td> <td>119.3 </td> <td>60 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">West Coast </td> <td>20 </td> <td>14 </td> <td>6 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2067 </td> <td>1654 </td> <td>125.0 </td> <td>56 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Nth Melb </td> <td>20 </td> <td>13 </td> <td>7 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2175 </td> <td>1888 </td> <td>115.2 </td> <td>52 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Geelong </td> <td>20 </td> <td>13 </td> <td>7 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1990 </td> <td>1735 </td> <td>114.7 </td> <td>52 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Fremantle </td> <td>20 </td> <td>12 </td> <td>8 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1723 </td> <td>1572 </td> <td>109.6 </td> <td>48 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Carlton </td> <td>20 </td> <td>11 </td> <td>9 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1902 </td> <td>1721 </td> <td>110.5 </td> <td>44 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Essendon </td> <td>20 </td> <td>11 </td> <td>9 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1962 </td> <td>1884 </td> <td>104.1 </td> <td>44 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">St Kilda </td> <td>20 </td> <td>10 </td> <td>10 </td> <td>- </td> <td>2078 </td> <td>1777 </td> <td>116.9 </td> <td>40 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Richmond </td> <td>20 </td> <td>9 </td> <td>11 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1961 </td> <td>1780 </td> <td>110.2 </td> <td>36 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Brisbane </td> <td>20 </td> <td>8 </td> <td>12 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1672 </td> <td>1938 </td> <td>86.3 </td> <td>32 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Pt Adelaide </td> <td>20 </td> <td>5 </td> <td>15 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1492 </td> <td>1934 </td> <td>77.2 </td> <td>20 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Bulldogs </td> <td>20 </td> <td>5 </td> <td>15 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1408 </td> <td>2066 </td> <td>68.2 </td> <td>20 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Melbourne </td> <td>20 </td> <td>4 </td> <td>16 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1459 </td> <td>2090 </td> <td>69.8 </td> <td>16 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">Gold Coast </td> <td>20 </td> <td>2 </td> <td>18 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1349 </td> <td>2242 </td> <td>60.2 </td> <td>8 </td> </tr> <tr> <td align="left">GWS </td> <td>20 </td> <td>2 </td> <td>18 </td> <td>- </td> <td>1158 </td> <td>2483 </td> <td>46.6 </td> <td>8 </td> </tr> </tbody> </table>

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