AFTER two consecutive losses Fremantle midfielder Garrick Ibbotson believes his younger teammates answered the critics in their nine-point win over Carlton at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Losses to Adelaide and St Kilda had some pundits suggesting Fremantle’s season was on the slide, but Ibbotson said the strength of character of the young side shone through in the victory.

“We have young guys in our team and they are hungry to play well and they are always going to be,” Ibbotson said.

“They are always going to put their best foot forward every week so from inside the club we had no thoughts of them having a flat spot at all and this week has proven that.”

The win over the Blues now has Fremantle sitting in the top four with nine wins from 13 matches – their best start to the season since entering the competition back in 1995.

But Ibbotson – who celebrated his 50th game for Fremantle – said the challenge is still ahead of his teammates to capitalise on their sensational start to season 2010.

“The challenge for us now is to not go backwards from where we are,” he said. “We are always going to remember where we have come from as a football club and as a team from the start of the season.

“We want to make sure we are pushing forward and keep improving and if we can finish off the last half of the season the way we have started, I think we are looking good.”

Ibbotson says the confidence within the group is growing stronger as the season progresses and he can sense the excitement growing for Fremantle’s prospects for the rest of the season.

“It is good the way we have started the season, especially with a young squad,” he said.

“It’s good for the future at the moment playing with a lot of youngsters and I think things can only get better from now on.”

Recruited to the club with pick 26 at the 2005 NAB AFL Draft, it has been a long road for Ibbotson after playing just one game in his debut season in 2007.

But after playing all 22 games last year, Ibbotson is desperate to cement his place in the team as Fremantle’s push towards a top-four spot gathers momentum.

“Playing 50 games is good but it’s not enough really. I want to keep going on and keep improving and be part of the team that is going in the right direction later in the season,” he said.

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