Freo keep Hawks guessing
Freo keep Hawks guessing

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon was doing his best to keep Hawthorn guessing about his final line-up as the Dockers flew out of Perth yesterday amid growing doubts Michael Johnson will be fit to face the Hawks tomorrow night.

Johnson hobbled from the field late in the win over Gold Coast last Saturday and had a heavy ice pack on his right thigh after the match.

Lyon described him as "sore" during a 6PR interview on Monday night.

Johnson was not spotted at training yesterday morning and was not among 23 players sighted at Perth airport when the Dockers flew out in the afternoon for the MCG blockbuster.

Lyon said Johnson had trained away from the main group and had not travelled because of a "personal matter".

"He is not travelling today," Lyon said.

"We expect him to play.

"I think we have got 25 travelling. The team comes out tomorrow and we have still got some decisions to make. We get that luxury.

"There are not that many mysteries left in life so there is one little one at the minute with the Dockers.

"You will just have to wait until the team comes out. We are working through a few things, flights tomorrow and all of those things."

With three key players - Nat Fyfe, Zac Dawson and Michael Barlow - already absent through suspension or injury, Lyon can scarcely afford the loss of his All-Australian defender from last year.

There was a line-up of what the coach referred to as "the usual suspects" - players trying to force their way into Fremantle's team - who did fly with the squad.

Clancee Pearce, Hayden Crozier, Lachie Neale, Zac Clarke and Garrick Ibbotson joined the travelling party as Lyon reiterated there would be no excuses for his team despite the growing list of outs.

"It is a wonderful challenge for us," Lyon said.

"We are really excited by the challenge. We play the premier team in the competition. Like us they have got a few challenges with personnel. But the best teams and the best clubs use no excuse.

"They expect the next person to deliver and we will be the same.

"Clancee Pearce, Lachie Neale, Ibbotson, Zac Clarke, those kind of guys. We expect them to be able to deliver.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for us all."

Pearce has struggled for form after an interrupted pre-season, while Clarke and Ibbotson have played once after off-season injuries and will have had a 13-day break between their hit-out for Peel Thunder and tomorrow night's clash.

Neale was the substitute in round one against Collingwood before being omitted from the Dockers team for the win over the Suns.

The Hawks have injury concerns of their own, however, with Luke Hodge (groin), Sam Mitchell (calf), Brad Sewell (hamstring) and Ben Stratton (hamstring) needing to prove their fitness.

Norm Smith medallist and key defender Brian Lake will miss his third match through suspension.

Lyon said he would not spend too much time and energy on which Hawk guns were likely to be fit to play.

"I have learned not to worry about it too much," Lyon said.

"You expect them to pick their best team and you expect them to play. You don't really know.

"Ninety minutes out (from the start of the game), the team sheet comes and they are in or they are out.

"You prepare for them to play. That is what I do.

"It is really about us and how we play and what we need to do."

·Fremantle forward Hayden Ballantyne yesterday signed a three-year contract extension with the Dockers.

The West Australian

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