First-year Fremantle player Jesse Crichton will make his AFL debut in Sunday’s clash with the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.

The 19-year-old Tasmanian recruit has been named in Freo’s final 22, along with Antoni Grover, Nick Suban and Clancee Pearce.

The quartet replaces Kepler Bradley (knee), Ryan Crowley (knee), Alex Silvagni (groin) and Paul Hasleby (general soreness).

Crichton, an AIS AFL Academy graduate, was selected by Fremantle with pick 48 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft after representing Tasmania at the Under-18 Championships.

He has been playing for WAFL side Peel Thunder in 2010, mainly as a midfielder.

Senior coach Mark Harvey said Crichton’s promotion has been well-earned.

“He plays with a real desire to retrieve the ball, whether the opposition has it or if it’s a 50/50 ball,” he said.

“We think Jesse’s going to be a part of our midfield moving forward.

“He’s played for Peel all year and he’s played at a consistent level, so he deserves this chance.”

Harvey said he expected Crichton to assert himself on the game come Sunday.

“We expect him to deliver a degree of poise and an understanding of our game plan,” he said.

Crichton will make his debut in a game where a victory to the fifth-placed Bulldogs would see it displace Freo from fourth position on the AFL ladder.

But Harvey said he wasn’t worried about exposing Crichton under the spotlight of such an important game.

“It’s when you really find out about younger players, when you put them in big games,” he said.

“Jesse won’t be overawed by the situation.”

Crichton found out that he would be playing during Thursday’s team meeting and called his mother back home in Tasmania as soon as he could.

“I called her just before training began and told her I was playing this weekend, but I couldn’t get her reaction because I had to get out to training straight away,” Crichton said.

The youngster said he never expected to be selected for Sunday’s game.

“It was a bit of a surprise because I wasn’t in the squad in the past few weeks,” he said.

“I was pretty excited and a bit nervous to hear my name called out in the meeting.”

Crichton said he hoped he could apply himself well in his first game at the elite level.

“I just want to get out there and have a bit of fun,” he said.

“I’ll try and play my bit for the team and hopefully we can have a win.

“It will be a tough first game, but I’m keen to get out there and have a bit of a run.”

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