Lloyd calls on Freo to pick Sylvia
Lloyd calls on Freo to pick Sylvia

Essendon champion Matthew Lloyd has backed the promotion of Colin Sylvia, saying the former Demon has the X-factor to replace Michael Walters in Fremantle's weakened forward line against the Bombers at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.

Lloyd advocated Sylvia's selection as the injury-hit Dockers brace for a tough five weeks with games against Sydney (away), North Melbourne (home), West Coast, Port Adelaide (away) and Geelong (home).

Lloyd, whose brothers Simon and Brad work at Fremantle, said the mauling from Hawthorn last Friday had shown the Dockers needed Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow in their midfield to knock off the competition's best sides.

Fremantle will be missing Walters and possibly Chris Mayne - the team's two leading goal kickers last year - because of ankle injuries as they take on an in-form Essendon side that has averaged 16 goals a game in the first three rounds.

Sylvia, 28, booted 129 goals in 157 games at Melbourne but has yet to play a senior game at Fremantle since being recruited in the off-season.

He has been steadily building back to full fitness with Fremantle's WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder and is coming off an improved two-goal, 23-disposal performance last weekend.

Lloyd said the time was right for the Dockers to throw Sylvia back into the AFL arena.

"He's exactly the X-factor Fremantle need," Lloyd said.

"He can play forward and kick three goals and maybe challenge (Dustin) Fletcher or (Cale) Hooker with that lead-up type role.

"That's the question mark that I've got on Fremantle now with Mayne and Walters being sore, just how many players they've got capable of hitting the scoreboard. That's where Colin would be of great value.

"Even if he doesn't find a heap of the footy, to kick two or three goals would be really important.

"I always thought of Colin that if he was ever in a good system he'd be a quality player."

Fyfe (suspension) and Barlow (knee) will miss again but Fremantle will regain Zac Dawson from a one-match ban.

"Ross Lyon's coaching career has been built on not relying on individuals, but last Friday night showed against a quality side they couldn't cope without Fyfe and Barlow," Lloyd said.

Garrick Ibbotson was on light duties yesterday and reluctant to use his right arm as he recovers from a shoulder dislocation.

A setback for Kepler Bradley has added to the Dockers' injury woes. He has had hamstring problems in his comeback from a knee reconstruction.

The West Australian

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