Lyon backs young defenders to stand up

Coach Ross Lyon isn’t concerned about Fremantle’s first defeat of the AFL season or the loss of another key defender ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Gold Coast to take on the Suns.

Fremantle went down to resurgent Richmond by 27 points last weekend to end a nine-game winning streak, losing 200-gamer Michael Johnson to a serious hamstring injury in the process.

That will keep Johnson out for up to 10 weeks as he joins fellow defenders Zac Dawson (broken hand) and Alex Silvagni (hamstring) on the sidelines, but Lyon is confident he has enough depth in his squad to cover their absence.

Luke McPharlin will continue to be the rock of the Dockers defence and Lyon is prepared to back in Alex Pearce to return to the team after a three-week absence to play as the second tall backman.

However, he knows the 20-year-old will have some up-and-down moments.

“I think common sense prevails here. He’s (Pearce) a young defender, playing his second or third game and we know he can really play a bit, but he’s going to get beaten at times,” Lyon said.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Alex and hopefully he’ll get a run at it but he hasn’t got it locked down.

“He’s going to have to perform. It’s not all doom and gloom. But we acknowledge we would love to have Michael playing. We’ll be fine without him.”

Tanner Smith could also get his chance after strong recent form in the WAFL, while Matt Taberner and Chris Mayne are other options to pinch-hit in the back half.

While the problems in defence have been highlighted following the loss to Richmond, Lyon has been more focused on improving Fremantle’s ball movement.

“Our workrate was a bit down without the ball but it was as much our ball movement to be honest,” Lyon said.

“That’s what we worked on Tuesday, we’ll work on it again because that’s what had really improved this year.

” … we spoke about running and spreading and attacking, we didn’t focus on defence.”

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