Fremantle skipper Matthew Pavlich is facing the prospect of sitting out another AFL game as the Dockers take a cautious approach with the 33-year-old.
Pavlich missed last week’s 11-point loss to North Melbourne because of Achilles tendon soreness and is no certainty to return for Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at Domain Stadium.
The 332-game veteran missed 12 weeks in 2013 after undergoing surgery to fix his Achilles tendon and the Dockers don’t want any more setbacks with the finals just around the corner.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said the club would assess Pavlich at training this week before making a call.
“I’m not optimistic until I see him on the track,” Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR on Tuesday.
“So I’ll probably plan for him to be out until he’s proven that he’s in.
“No one’s said it’s a certainty he’s going to train. I’d still have him in the unlikely category.”
Fremantle can ill afford to lose Pavlich in the finals.
Although the six-time All-Australian has only booted 36 goals from 19 games this season, his ability to create for other players has proven crucial.
The Dockers were dealt a dose of good news on Monday when star midfielder Nat Fyfe was cleared of wrongdoing over his collision with North Melbourne’s Ben Jacobs.
The result means Fyfe remains eligible to win this year’s Brownlow medal, plus he’ll be available to take on the Demons.
Consecutive losses have cut Fremantle’s lead on top of the table to just two points.
Although the Dockers will start as hot favourites against Melbourne, their final-round encounter against the Power in Adelaide looms as a tricky assignment.