Dockers in crisis as injury bites in AFL

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Dockers in crisis as injury bites in AFL

Fremantle’s injury curse has turned into a full-on crisis, but coach Ross Lyon is adamant veteran duo Michael Johnson and Aaron Sandilands will be back to ease the pain later this year.

The Dockers have just 28 fit players to choose from for Friday night’s AFL clash with Collingwood at the MCG after Tendai Mzungu, Matt de Boer, Tanner Smith, Brady Grey, and Matthew Uebergang became the latest players to join the club’s bulging casualty ward.

The club initially floated the prospect of resting veteran Matthew Pavlich against the Magpies.

But with 17 players already on the club’s injury list, Pavlich has been given the green light to play in what will be his final game at the MCG.

Lyon is so worried about the health of his squad, he revealed he would ease the team’s training loads in a bid to avoid any further setbacks.

“It is concerning. It’s got to a tipping point really,” Lyon said on Wednesday.

“We lost five on the weekend. Tendai Mzungu has been ruled out with a hamstring overnight.

“I think we have 22 and three emergencies (available).

“And then outside of that we’ve really got (three) players, and two of them are returning from long-term injury.”

Ruckman Jack Hannath will replace Smith (hamstring) in what’s expected to be the only change to the side that beat Port Adelaide last week.

Pavlich starred in that game with four goals, and the 34-year-old will be aiming to produce another big performance in his MCG farewell.

Sandilands hasn’t played since puncturing his lung and fracturing some ribs against West Coast in round three.

Johnson hasn’t featured since undergoing surgery for the hamstring/knee injury he suffered against Carlton in round five.

The Dockers initially thought Sandilands would be able to return by about round 10, but the 211cm ruckman is still listed as being four weeks away.

And with no time frame set on Johnson’s return, speculation was growing the veteran duo wouldn’t play again this year.

But Lyon put those discussions to bed on Wednesday.

“He’ll get there. He’ll certainly play again this year. It’s anywhere north of (round) 18-19,” he said.

The Dockers (3-10) will be aiming for their fourth straight win when they take on the Magpies.

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