Ross Lyon says there is no magic formula to fix the holes in Fremantle's midfield, labelling hardness and intent as the key ingredients needed to challenge Essendon's on-ball brigade tomorrow at Patersons Stadium.
The Dockers coach promised far more positive football than the effort dished up against Hawthorn at the MCG eight days ago as last year's grand finalists named inexperienced duo Josh Simpson and Matt Taberner for their first games of the year.
In a major shake-up, Fremantle have made five changes to face the Bombers, with regulars Clancee Pearce, who was named on the interchange bench, Zac Clarke and Zac Dawson returning. Jack Hannath and Tom Sheridan were axed in the fallout from last week's 58-point hammering from the Hawks, a game that cost the Dockers dearly with injuries to Michael Walters (ankle), Garrick Ibbotson (shoulder) and Chris Mayne (ankle).
Lyon acknowledged the enormity of tomorrow's challenge, saying his battered side was coming up against the "most in-form team" of the competition.
He indicated he would keep faith with the same midfield group that is missing Nat Fyfe (suspension) and Michael Barlow (knee) despite losing the clear-ances 15-24 and contested possessions 54-90 in the first half of last Friday night's rout.
"We've put a little bit of work into it (the midfield), but basically we like to be predictable," Lyon said.
"At the end of the day it is about intent and hardness and joining in.
"We did get going in the middle, particularly in the second half, but the second half is probably too late, isn't it?
"They're a proud group. Our midfield's delivered (before).
"All the pointers are it's going to be a big challenge but one we're pretty keen to accept."
Taberner will boost Fremantle's goal-kicking options in his fifth AFL game.
Simpson was preferred to former Demon Colin Sylvia for just his second AFL appearance.
The reward comes after a pre-season where the 20-year-old initially turned up short of required fitness levels and was later granted personal leave to deal with family issues.
The 2012 No.17 draft pick's only other match for Fremantle came on the eve of last year's finals series as the club rested a host of stars against St Kilda in round 23.
Lyon said Simpson had turned a corner.
"He's started to understand the commitment of AFL footy and the work rate required," Lyon said.
"At the end of the day it is about intent and hardness and joining in.""Dockers coach *Ross Lyon *