Cards falling into place: Duffield
Cards falling into place: Duffield

Paul Duffield says Fremantle intend to be far more switched on when they come up against West Coast at Patersons Stadium tonight, just eight days out from the start of their 2014 season.

The Dockers will be missing Hayden Ballantyne who withdrew from the practice game with a corked thigh yesterday, but are otherwise expected to field 20 players involved in last year's grand final.

Tanner Smith has been added as Ballantyne's replacement but looks likely to be one of three players cut from the 27-man squad before bouncedown.

The Dockers expect to be more competitive than they were a fortnight ago when the Eagles belted Fremantle's lethargic line-up by 84 points at Arena Joondalup.

They were also slow off the mark against the Western Bulldogs eight days ago, needing a final-quarter surge and strong leadership from Aaron Sandilands to post a 28-point win.

Duffield said the players looked sharp at training this week and he hoped fans would see a different team to the one that had produced sluggish performances so far leading into round one.

"We talked about it in our review … the first half wasn't up to our standards against the Bulldogs, but we certainly started to get to work in the second half," Duffield said.

"Again, that's something that we hope to continue to build on and improve on. Hopefully it's more of a four-quarter performance (against West Coast).

"We've taken every game seriously. It just goes to show how brutal the competition is."

Duffield, 29, last week signed a one-year contract extension through until the end of 2015 but faces more competition than ever to hold his spot in defence.

Cameron Sutcliffe will play his second pre-season match tonight and is one of several young Dockers pressing for a regular role across half-back.

Clancee Pearce and Garrick Ibbotson will also be pushing to reclaim their places in 2014 after missing last year's finals series with Achilles injuries.

"We have a lot of depth and a lot of improvement in players across the board," Duffield said.

"It's going to be hard for spots anywhere. The guys have had a great pre-season and the side that runs out in round one will be really strong."

The West Australian

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