Dockers scramble to cover injuries
Alex Silvagni is out for the Dockers. Pic: Getty Images

Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow says Chris Mayne and Tendai Mzungu could be used as makeshift defenders tomorrow after Alex Silvagni's rib injury robbed the side of much-needed back-line height in the western derby.

Silvagni was the Dockers' only change when teams were named yesterday, finally succumbing to a complaint that has troubled him for the past fortnight. Forward Matt Taberner was named as his replacement.

The Eagles recalled veteran ruckman Dean Cox, who has been rested for the past two weeks, and hard-nosed midfielder Patrick McGinnity. Scott Lycett and Jamie Cripps were dropped.

Lycett, who is out of contract at the end of the season, had performed solidly in Cox's absence and his omission raises further questions about his long-term future at West Coast.

Silvagni's injury looms as a crucial blow for a Dockers defence already missing All-Australian duo Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson with knee injuries as it prepares to face one of the tallest forward lines in the competition.

The Eagles' attack has been important in wins over Gold Coast and St Kilda in the past two weeks, with Josh Kennedy (196cm), Jeremy McGovern (195cm) and Jack Darling (191cm) kicking 17 goals between them.

Fremantle's tallest regular defender tomorrow will be Zac Dawson (197cm), followed by Paul Duffield (188cm).

Eagles ruckmen Dean Cox and Scott Lycett tussle at training. Pic: Sharon Smith/WA News

Barlow said the situation was not ideal, but he backed his teammates to respond to the challenge.

"They've been a really resilient group for us and one of our most consistent in our recent history," Barlow said.

"It will really put the acid on (Garrick) Ibbotson to play a bit taller, (Cameron) Sutcliffe to play a bit taller and the possibility of a Mayne going back there or Tendai Mzungu to spend a bit more time back there.

"We'd probably prefer them to be on the mid-sized players and drop off a bit, but they'll just do what's required."

Barlow, speaking at The Gate Bar and Bistro yesterday as part of the Carlton Draught Derby Legends Tour, said the makeshift nature of the club's defence would put even more pressure on the midfield battle.

He said the Dockers knew they couldn't afford the Eagles to have too many inside-50 entries.

"With McGovern going so well, Josh Kennedy, Darling and (Mark) LeCras, they've got the weapons to kick a winning score, definitely," he said.

The West Australian

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