Don t write off Dawson for Power trip, says Barlow
Zac Dawson. Pic: Getty Images

Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow has backed Zac Dawson's track record in overcoming injury to get up for big matches to give him a chance to play against Port Adelaide this weekend.

Barlow, who made a successful return from injury himself in Fremantle's 19-point win over West Coast on Sunday, said Dawson had wasted no time in getting stuck into recovering from the rolled ankle he suffered in Sunday's derby win.

He was also confident Luke McPharlin's ability to return to the field after a thigh injury in the same match suggested that he was a good chance to play.

"He is really diligent with recovery and rehab and hasn't spent much time away from trying to get himself right," Barlow said of Dawson.

The former St Kilda defender was on crutches yesterday, leading to speculation he was unlikely to recover to play against Port. He also had scans on his injured ankle yesterday.

"He will put every step in place to be available," Barlow said. "He has got plenty of runs on the board in terms of getting up for games and a big game like this one."

Barlow said McPharlin was "an amazing person" and the Dockers were confident in his availability.

"There would have been a no-risk policy if there was any real significance in the injury," he said.

"It was probably significant enough to assess and have a good look at him early this week, but him getting through that game probably gives the fitness guys massive confidence in Luke."

Barlow said he was pleased with his own ability to get back ahead of time from a knee injury which was expected to sideline him for more than five weeks.

"You realise how much you do love it, when you are not playing and you are watching," he said. "The Kangaroos game was quite difficult.

"I am really stoked to do the rehab really well and make it only a four-week injury.

"The knee was fine. The lungs were going pretty hard during the game. I was better for the run and it was good to get the result."

He predicted he would benefit from the Eagles game and admitted he knew he was short of ideal match preparation for the match.

"I always knew there were going to be times in the game when I was going to be unders but I put my hand up to play and declared myself 100 per cent fit," he said.

"You can't simulate that kind of intensity and that kind of match hardness in training as much as we really tried to in the last nine to 10 days of my rehab.

"I was thrilled to get out there and contribute. I was probably a little bit rusty but that one is under the belt now and I am really looking forward to Port Adelaide."

Barlow said the Dockers believed they hadn't put a strong four quarter performance in every aspect for some weeks now.

"Even on the weekend, at stages we are being quite inconsistent," he said. "Just in one little area a week. Against North Melbourne it was ball movement, against Sydney it was intensity at the contest and on the weekend we didn't nail a four-quarter performance. But we were better than we had been in the previous weeks."

He likened Port Adelaide to the sort of challenge Hawthorn represented.

"It is a big challenge this weekend against the number one offensive side in the competition," he said. "Hawthorn showed us why they are the ones being hunted and they are deservedly the premiership favourites.

"Even on the weekend, St Kilda really saw what Hawthorn are about, they are really relentless and a foot to the throat side. Port Adelaide poses a massive challenge. They are the number one scores for team with really strong midfielders providing options to their forwards who are up and about.

"Jay Schulz is leading the Coleman and Justin Westhoff on his day could kick 10. Chad Wingard at ground level was an All-Australian last year."

"If we are at our defensive best we can try and stop the influx entries for them and those weapons that I just alluded to."

"On the weekend we were able to control the ball a lot more. The best form of defence is offence and if we can control the ball and restrict Port Adelaide's access to the footy because they are a real run and gun turnover, end to end link up team.

"We have got to control the football and when it is in our hands make sure that we are using it efficiently."

The West Australian

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