Fremantle coach Ross Lyon will consider letting Michael Barlow off the leash in Friday night’s AFL clash with Collingwood at the MCG.
Barlow has been a revelation in his new role as a tagger, restricting stars such as David Zaharakis, Daniel Rich, and Robbie Gray to play a key part in Fremantle’s three-match winning run.
Star Magpies midfielders Scott Pendlebury, Steele Sidebottom, and Adam Treloar are all in the running to get pegged down by Barlow this week.
But in an unexpected twist, Lyon revealed he was also considering the option of relieving Barlow of his tagging duties this week.
Barlow tallied 43 disposals and two goals in last week’s 17-point win over Port Adelaide, and Lyon doesn’t want to stymie any of that attacking prowess.
“He’s in pretty good offensive form,” Lyon said.
“When he’s up and going like that, he doesn’t really need to be having a narrow focus like he’s had (with the tag).
“We’re still to make a decision on that.”
Both Fremantle (3-10) and Collingwood (4-8) are already out of the finals picture despite starting the season with high hopes.
The Dockers’ injury curse hit crisis point this week when a further five players were added to the casualty ward, bringing the total to 17.
Lyon revealed he had just 28 fit players to choose from against Collingwood this week, and two of those have only just returned from long-term injuries.
But despite the club’s lowly standing and numerous personnel challenges, Lyon said his players would relish the chance to strut their stuff on the Friday night stage.
“You don’t get many prime time slots. They’re coveted in the AFL,” Lyon said.
“We feel we’ve improved our football over the last three weeks, but Collingwood are a big challenge.
“They’re like us – they’ve got a significant injury list. Six or seven or their nominal best 18 out.
“I think we find ourselves on equal footing.”
Jack Hannath will come into the side to help Zac Clarke in the ruck, while Matthew Pavlich will be aiming to make a big impact in his final game at the MCG.