Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says he’s considering a range of options to cover the loss of All-Australian defender Michael Johnson in Saturday’s qualifying final against Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
Lyon confirmed fringe defender Alex Silvagni was a certainty to come into the team, but again cast doubt on the chances of veteran All-Australian Luke McPharlin returning from a calf injury as the Dockers confront the most talented tall forward line in the competition.
Lyon said he had already mentally moved on from the loss of Johnson, who will have back surgery this week, and was working on potential solutions to combat towering Swans quartet Lance Franklin, Kurt Tippett, Sam Reid and Adam Goodes.
The highly-regarded coach, who is leading Fremantle into a third consecutive finals series, also threw up luckless midfielder Anthony Morabito, developing draftee Alex Pearce, who could make a shock debut, and second-year key position prospect Tanner Smith as potential replacements for Johnson.
The potential to throw ruckman-forward Zac Clarke, or hard-working forward Chris Mayne into defence was also flagged by Lyon today.
“Obviously they’re a very powerful front half,” Lyon said.
“The recruitment of Tippett and Franklin has been extraordinary for them.
“Then you couple that up with Reid and Goodes and their smalls and it’s really quite powerful.
“Look, it’s not the ideal scenario for us but it’s not something we’re dwelling on.
“Our job is to plan and prepare and come up with solutions.
“Alex Silvagni will definitely come in, Alex Pearce has had a really good year, young player.
“It would be a big thing to throw it to him, but one he’s capable of.
“Tanner Smith, a big man that played on the weekend(for Peel Thunder), has played senior football.
“Morabito is probably a bit of a wildcard.
“And then do you put a Zac Clarke back there or a Mayne and bring in another tall, (Jon) Griffin and (Jack) Hannath or go a bit smaller because it’s going to rain.
“So we’ve got to work through all of that.”
The Dockers have marked the dimensions of ANZ Stadium at Fremantle Oval as they prepare to play at the venue for the first time since their 2006 preliminary finals loss.
Lyon was unconcerned about criticism of the Stadium’s surface and safety issues.
“I know the AFL will provide a safe working environment for our players,” he said.
“I know it will be playable. “There'll be no happier group than the
Fremantle Dockers when they run down the race when the ball's bounced.”
Veteran Matthew Pavlich, who was one of a handful of star players who missed this morning training session, said it was just routine, joking the club was looking after the geriatrics.
“It's been a focus of the group to make sure that we're fresh and ready to go and clearly we'd love to be training always but it's more of a management issue of the individual guys, how much than ran in the game, all those sort of things,” Pavlich said.
“I was just a part of that rotation today.”