Fremantle is still smarting – not from their loss to the Bombers last year, not from the grand final, but from last week’s bruising loss to Hawthorn.
As well as copping a battering on the scoreboard, the Dockers inflated their injury list with the loss of key personnel.
Joining Nat Fyfe and Michael Barlow on the sidelines are Garrick Ibbotson (shoulder), Chris Mayne (ankle) and Michael Walters (ankle).
It’s not ideal ahead of their clash with Essendon – the only side to defeat Fremantle in Perth last year.
But coach Ross Lyon insisted that match was far from his thoughts.
“We move on pretty quick so that loss to Essendon last year was a long time ago now, and it’s not something we have dwelled on,” Lyon said.
To triumph this week, Lyon will need to call on fringe and young players.
Former Melbourne veteran Colin Sylvia heads a list of likely inclusions followed by Clancee Pearce, Josh Simpson, Zac Clarke and Matt Taberner.
For Simpson, it would be a good reward for the young talent who has battled homesickness since joining the Dockers while Sylvia has shown solid WAFL form with Peel Thunder.
Lyon was coy over Sylvia’s inclusion.
“He (Sylvia) has been named in the squad, but there are only two certainties in life and that is death and taxes,” he said.
“We still have to get through this one last training session, but he has started to build no doubt.”
The four-time grand final coach spoke of his admiration for the resilience in the Essendon group, despite the ongoing doping saga.
“They have been a pretty good team for a while and it’s remarkable what they did last year with all the stresses, and clearly they have been under some stress this year, but all credit to them,” he said.
“They have been mentally tough and able to hold themselves together, and it’s good to see a great footy club get back on their knees. We want to be a great football club and we are building, and we need to come up against them and match them head on.”