UPDATED: Fremantle first-round draft pick Josh Simpson has turned a corner and now understands what it takes to play AFL, coach Ross Lyon says.
Simpson, 20, managed one game late last season when the Dockers played an under strength side on the eve of finals, but has not otherwise added to his tally since being taken with pick No.17 in the 2012 national draft.
The East Fremantle product was given time off by the club in January to travel home to Yalgoo, about 500km north of Perth, for family reasons.
The youngster returned and upped his work rate at training.
He produced his best game so far this year last Saturday with 23 possessions and 10 inside-50s for WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder and has been rewarded with a spot in Fremantle’s 25-man squad to face Essendon at Patersons Stadium on Sunday.
Lyon said Simpson had “got himself together” and got momentum behind him heading into the rest of the season.
“He’s turned the corner,” Lyon said.
“He’s started to understand the commitment of AFL footy and the work rate required and he’s taken control of his life off the field.
“He’s got himself into pretty good shape and that’s enabled him to put together a couple of decent performances.
“Whether he gets across the line or not, there’s a bit of work to go there yet.”
Fremantle cut three players from their squad today but Simpson survived the cut.
Colin Sylvia Jack Hannath and Tom Sheridan were the deletions from the extended bench.
The Dockers have already been forced to omit Michael Walters (ankle), Garrick Ibbotson (shoulder) and Chris Mayne (ankle), prompting Lyon to say he hoped they got though training unscathed.
“We’ve got to get through our final training session today,” he said.
“You hold your breath and hopefully get a clean bill of health and pick our best team that’s available.”