Barlow in line for shock AFL recall
Fremantle coach Mark Harvey will consider handing gun midfielder Michael Barlow a shock AFL recall against Essendon on Sunday in an attempt to revitalise the Dockers’ flagging campaign.
Barlow tallied 15 possessions in two quarters of football in the WAFL reserves last week in his first game back from a broken leg.
The 23-year-old was initially expected to spend at least several weeks in WAFL ranks before pushing for a senior recall.
But after watching his injury-hit side lose four of their past five games to slump to eighth on the table, Harvey hinted he would weigh up the merits of handing Barlow an early recall in an attempt to re-energise the Dockers.
“There’s always the chance of the emotional selection and what it could do for a team,” Harvey said ahead of the clash at Patersons Stadium.
“Whether we rely on that or not remains to be seen this week.
“It was good to see him get through the first half (for the Peel Thunder reserves). He was already on a text message straight after the game to me.”
Harvey said the club’s leadership group needed to take some blame for Sunday’s final-quarter capitulation to Hawthorn, who piled on eight unanswered goals to turn a 26-point deficit into a 22-point win.
Matthew Pavlich tallied just 15 possessions and failed to kick a goal against the Hawks, while David Mundy was also unusually quiet with 18 touches.
“To arrest momentum, you probably rely on your leadership group to do that,” Harvey told Perth radio station 6PR.
“That was something that was discussed.
“We need our guys to make sure that is stopped in its tracks and therefore the younger players can fall into line and make sure they don’t be reactive to situations.
“I guess we’re still learning.
“It’s the second time it’s happened to us at the MCG in the last month where we’ve fallen away in the last quarter. So we need to put a few things in place for that.”
Fremantle ruckman Jonathon Griffin has performed strongly since coming in for the injured Aaron Sandilands, while Harvey said he was also pleased with the work of 203cm tap specialist Zac Clarke, who was used largely as a big-bodied midfielder against Hawthorn.
“I thought he was good until halftime,” Harvey said.
“I thought he gave us a different angle there in the midfield.
“I think in time you are really going to see this guy emerge so we’re going to persevere with this.
“I’m not saying he’s a ruckman. He may well be a running midfielder depending on circumstances.
“I think you’ll find he’ll emerge as a midfielder, albeit six-foot eight. But he can run with the best of them.”
The Bombers, who sit half a game ahead of the Dockers, are desperate to end a two-game losing streak that has seen them lose touch with the top-four.