Lyon will give Freo kids a go
Alex Pearce.

First-year Fremantle defender Alex Pearce says Michael Apeness' debut against Melbourne sends a message that Ross Lyon will pick you if you're ready, regardless of age.

Lyon's reluctance to play young players during his time at St Kilda was blamed in part for the decline of the Saints over the past three seasons.

However, former Saints football operations manager Greg Hutchinson last week told Fox Footy the criticism was unfair given the club's drafting failures during Lyon's tenure.

Apeness' debut in Darwin made him the 11th Docker to play his first game in his first year since Lyon took over at the port club in 2012.

Three of those players - Cameron Sutcliffe, Lee Spurr, and Lachie Neale - have gone on to claim regular spots in the best 22 and played in last year's grand final.

Pearce, who returned from a shin injury for Peel on Saturday, said he had never been made to feel as if a debut was beyond him as a first-year player.

"Obviously it's happened before where blokes have come in out of the blue. Tanner Smith was one last year, as an emergency he came in, so you've always got to be ready," the 19-year-old said.

"That's why it's important that we prepare well through the week and that we're ready to go if we're called upon.

"They prepare us for that.

"What we're doing here at Peel is preparing ourselves for senior footy."

Pearce, the 37th player selected in last year's national draft, sustained a stress fracture in a shin at the end of the pre-season. He has played only four games for Peel.

But the Tasmanian has shown good defensive capabilities and a cool head once in possession during his limited opportunities.

He paid tribute to the guidance he's been given by the entire Dockers squad, in particular Luke McPharlin.

The West Australian

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