The unprecedented test of depth being experienced by an injury-stricken Fremantle is likely to help long-serving pair Ryan Crowley and Michael Johnson secure contracts beyond this year.

Crowley, 27, and Johnson, 26, are out of contract at the end of this season and have had below-par years.

Both are expected to face Collingwood at Patersons Stadium tomorrow night as the Dockers come to grips with a massive casualty list that includes Matthew Pavlich (hip/calf), David Mundy (ankle), Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring) and Adam McPhee (foot). It grew yesterday when ruckman Jonathon Griffin was ruled out for the rest of the year because of a hip injury.

Crowley started the year in the forward line and brought up his 100-game milestone four matches in, but was dropped after managing just two possessions in Fremantle’s round-five win over the Western Bulldogs.

He won his way back into the line-up only to be axed twice more in the last year of his two-year contract.

However, the tagger has reinforced his worth twice in recent weeks with superb shutdown jobs on West Coast clearance specialist Matt Priddis and Carlton mid- fielder Heath Scotland. Crowley’s manager, Carlos Da Costa, met Fremantle recruiting chief Brad Lloyd on Tuesday and said the indications were that Crowley was a required player.

“Hopefully Freo show that they do want Crowley because at the end of the day there’s a lot of injury problems going forward this year,” Da Costa said.

“You’ve got to remember football is about egos as well.

“Ryan Crowley can go out, play a game and get three touches, but shut down Chris Judd for the whole game and his job’s been done.

“Not many players can go out there, do that and be satisfied.”

Johnson is one of just five Dockers not to miss a senior game to this point of the season. The 194cm utility player has struggled badly for form in averaging less than 14 disposals a match, with his output such that coach Mark Harvey at one point conceded the rangy Docker would have been relegated to the interchange bench or used as a substitute if not for the club’s injuries.

Johnson and 2008 NAB Rising Star winner Rhys Palmer, who is also coming out of contract, have been mooted as possible recruits for Greater Western Sydney, who enter the competition next year.

The pair’s WA-based manager, Colin Young, said he had been told Johnson was a required player beyond this year. Club officials will have to make a call on two veterans and a string of other fringe players before the year is out.

Antoni Grover and Roger Hayden are not contracted beyond 2011. Byron Schammer, Clayton Hink-ley, Justin Bollenhagen and Joel Houghton will also finish deals this year.

Hamish Shepheard, Casey Sibosado and Clancee Pearce are in their third year on the rookie list, meaning Fremantle will have to upgrade or cut them. Ben Bucovaz has played one match and another rookie, Tim Ruffles, hasn’t played a game for the club this season.

 

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