Lyon backs Ballantyne to play
Hayden Ballantyne trains at Fremantle Oval today. Pic: Mogens Johansen.

A buoyant Ross Lyon says there is a very good chance that Hayden Ballantyne will play against Geelong on Saturday night, after what he described as a minor procedure to push out his cheekbone.

And Lyon is also upbeat about the prospects of full back Zac Dawson and midfielder Stephen Hill facing the Cats, althougbh both trained lightly and away from the main group during a session at Fremantle Oval this morning.

There had been speculation that Ballantyne may have suffered a slight fracture to his jaw against Port Adelaide last weekend. Lyon's description of the surgery this morning suggested he may have suffered a depressed fracture of a cheekbone.

"I am really expectant that he will play," he said. "Our overriding philosophy is that if we have got a player at significant risk it wouldn't occur. Any decision that is still to be made will be based on that fundamental philosophy of player well being and what is best for the team.

"We are not going to pick people that can't go in and win the ball and chase and tackle.

"Hayden actually came back onto the ground and played and was in some fierce contests so he has just got a bit of swelling. It is a really minor procedure and it is a bit about 'comfortability'. Stephen Milne played with two fractures of the cheekbone and they were really swollen.

"This is just a slight fracture where they push out the cheekbone.

"I am really optimistic. Hayden wants to play, I would like him to play. If he feels good he will play so there is a good chance that he will play."

Ballantyne has been involved in some fiery exchanges against Geelong in the past but Lyon played down suggestions that the rivalry between the clubs went beyond normal.

"I tend to agree with Chris Scott that there is a lot of theatre. Every game of AFL is really physical and there has been a bit of theatre and a bit of push and shove. They have been really fierce contests at the ball and tackling," he said.

The West Australian

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