Now Pavlich a Fremantle casualty
Fremantle’s horror run of injuries is escalating with mounting prospects that powerhouse captain Matthew Pavlich could miss Saturday’s important home clash with Brisbane.
Pavlich, 29, is battling an ankle problem and could be sidelined for a showdown the Dockers must win to retain a flimsy grip on a top eight spot.
Fremantle could be bolstered for the Lions clash with a return from champion ruckman Aaron Sandilands, but the triple All-Australian is only considered a 50-50 chance to resume this week.
Sandilands has not played since Round 9 against Port Adelaide when he suffered a serious ligament and tendon strain under his left foot near his big toe late into the match.
Pavlich hobbled out of last Sunday’s humiliating thumping from Melbourne at the MCG with what was originally reported as a foot problem after he had been stomped on deep into the last quarter.
The most decorated Docker and Fremantle’s most crucial player around stoppages is likely to be kept in cotton wool until late in the week ahead of the Lions clash.
The five-times club champion and six-times All-Australian could even be named in Fremantle’s squad on Thursday and then given until late Saturday afternoon before deciding whether he is fit enough to lead the side.
The already injury-ravaged Dockers are also likely to confront the plucky Lions without veteran key defender Antoni Grover because of a groin injury and nagging tagger Ryan Crowley who has a back problem.
Grover, 31 and seven games short of his 200th outing with Fremantle, faces up to three weeks on the sidelines.
Brisbane coach Michael Voss has already declared he will miss in-form key forward Mitch Clark with an ankle injury as well as feisty small forward Todd Banfield with a hamstring injury.
The Dockers are already reeling with the absence of important on-ball play-maker David Mundy with a bad ankle injury and fiery sharp-shooting small forward Hayden Ballantyne with a hamstring strain.
In-form big utility Kepler Bradley could be available after missing the debacle against Melbourne with knee soreness.
Fremantle has slipped to seventh on the AFL ladder with just two wins in their last seven games after storming into the 2011 premiership campaign with four wins in their opening five outings.
Pavlich has suffered from fluctuating form in the past month as he has alternated from key forward to his important midfield running duties.
He was roundly criticised for a performance below his normally lofty standards against Hawthorn in Round 11 when the Dockers suffered a horrendous last quarter fadeout to surrender a 26-point lead three minutes into the final term and lost by 22 points.
Pavlich bounced back toward his finest a week later to lead the Dockers to a crucial home win over a top-eight rival Essendon when he gathered 22 possessions and booted three vital goals and was among the best few players on the ground.
His outing against the Demons was again well below his best with Pavlich managing 17 possessions and only one goal, but significantly only picking up five disposals after half-time.
With another mounting injury toll the Dockers were completely blown away after the long interval as the Demons hammered on 12 goals to just two with a midfield supremacy engineered by improving ruckman Stefan Martin and young ground level stars Tom Scully and Jack Trengove.
Pavlich was well held for a lot of his midfield presence against the Demons by little known but fast rising on-baller Jordie McKenzie, who rivalled his bigger name teammates for best-afield honours.