Coach Mark Harvey admits injury-hit Fremantle are feeling the pinch as the Dockers look to shore up a top-six berth.

The Dockers’ nine-point loss to Sydney on Saturday has left the race for fifth and sixth spot – and the resultant week-one home final – wide open, with Fremantle, Sydney and Carlton all vying for the two positions.

Fifth-placed Fremantle remain a game clear of the Blues and the Swans.

But four losses in the past six games, plus a raft of injuries to key players, has left the Dockers’ hopes of snaring a home final on shaky ground ahead of Saturday’s clash with Hawthorn in Launceston.

“I’m not sure whether you could call it a slump,” Harvey said of his team’s recent form.

“I think the pressure’s on everyone at the moment.

“Whether you’re in and around the eight or whether you’re around the bottom of the ladder, everyone’s under pressure at this particular stage.

“We’re no different.

“We just play the game on its merits irrespective of where we finish up.

“You’d like to think your team can handle any pressure, so if that presents itself, well so be it.”

With the likes of Chris Tarrant, Hayden Ballantyne, Chris Mayne, Des Headland, Aaron Sandilands and Michael Barlow out injured, Fremantle have been forced to field a glut of young players in recent weeks.

Harvey felt some of the youngsters may not have dealt with the pressure in an adequate fashion against Sydney.

“Some of our younger players just need to work through it when the game becomes telling and they’re understanding of that,” he said.

“We just need to make better decisions going forward.

“Irrespective of what the end result is at the end of the year it’s not about that. It’s about the way we play and the way individuals learn through pressure situations.

“Some of our players, sometimes when we need to move the ball quick they are choosing to move the ball slower, we need to address that.

“It’s just a little thing like being right up on your opponent when you haven’t got the ball, as opposed to ball watching at times.”

Harvey sounded more hopeful rather than confident that Sandilands would return from a foot injury to fact the Hawks.

Forwards Headland and Mayne are a chance to return after playing in the WAFL on the weekend.

Ruckman Zac Clarke faces a nervous wait after being reported for his clumsy hit on Sydney’s Ben McGlynn, who suffered a suspected fractured cheekbone after copping a knee to the face.

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