Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says it’s time for his players to stand up and demonstrate every ounce of their football character as the race for top-two spots heats up.
The Dockers sit fourth on the AFL table, one win adrift of pace setters Hawthorn, Sydney and Geelong.
Fremantle’s matches against Geelong (away) and Hawthorn (home) over the next fortnight are set to play a major role in shaping the order of the top four.
Although the Dockers have won nine of their past 10 games, their form in recent weeks has been shaky.
Last year’s grand finalists looked well off the boil in a shock 58-point loss to St Kilda, while Thursday night’s last-gasp win over Carlton was hardly convincing.
Fremantle’s top-two bid faces a major test on Saturday night when they take on the third-placed Cats at Simonds Stadium.
Geelong have won 19 of their past 20 games at Simonds Stadium, with the only blotch being a shock 15-point loss to Fremantle in last year’s qualifying final.
The Dockers have beaten Geelong in four of their past five meetings, but Lyon knows past records mean nothing.
“They’re the benchmark club of the competition I would think,” Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR.
“Everyone’s been writing them off, but they sit second on the ladder.
“It’s a big task going down there.
“It will test every ounce of our being and our football character. I think it will be a fierce contest.
“There’s an expectation at this time of year that we stand up. My players at our club are under no illusions as to the expectations.”
Dockers utility player Tendai Mzungu has been ruled out of the match with a hamstring injury, while concussed skipper Matthew Pavlich is also in doubt.
Former Demon Colin Sylvia, Anthony Morabito, Max Duffy, Hayden Crozier, Matt Taberner and Tom Sheridan are all in the running to earn a call-up following strong WAFL displays.
And goalsneak Michael Walters, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury since round three, is a chance to return via the WAFL on Saturday.