Ross Lyon says he feels invigorated by the optimism around the Dockers but the club have refused to set any lofty ambitions for their 2012 campaign at their season launch.

Fremantle refrained from making any bold predictions in front of a large gathering of sponsors and supporters on Wednesday, setting only a return to the finals as their ambition.

An injury-plagued 2011 season saw the Dockers drop out of the top eight, finishing 11th with a 9-13 record which saw previous coach Mark Harvey replaced by Lyon.

But many experts outside the club and Fremantle supporters are expecting big things in 2012, which Lyon said had given him and the rest of the coaching and playing group a strong determination to lift.

He said the gradual return to full fitness of several key players who missed significant chunks of the previous season, including David Mundy and Michael Barlow, had fuelled that optimism.

“I feel energised by being in the room [at the launch] and our job as a playing group and coaching group is to go out and play in a manner that’s expected and give great effort,” he said.

“We feel like we’ve done a lot of work to be able to do that. But, at the minute, talk is cheap.”

“There’s great hope and expectation from loyal Fremantle football people, members, fans and obviously our financial supporters and big backers.”

Captain Matthew Pavlich, who is expected to play largely as a forward in 2012 despite spending most of the past few seasons under Harvey in the midfield, said he didn’t want to set an overly ambitious aim but there was belief the club would improve significantly.

“We have really high internal expectations of this group. I think we’ve been on record as saying we want to be in the top eight and be really competitive,” he said.

“It’s a tough competition, but we’re confident because of the work we’ve done.”

“We’ve been really pleased with the pre-season and you get some real confidence from that preparation.”

The Dockers begin their season on March 31 against Geelong, which starts a tough stretch of matches that sees them play four of their first five games against 2011 finalists.

Meanwhile, the club announced Victoria Cross winner Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, a lifelong Fremantle fan, would take over from rock band Eskimo Joe as their Number 1 Ticket Holder.

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