Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says captain Matthew Pavlich is only a “50-50” proposition to play in Sunday’s season-defining clash against North Melbourne after another week of limited training.

Pavlich has been hampered by hamstring and Achilles tendon tightness and didn’t train in the build-up to last Saturday’s win over Richmond, receiving treatment through the match.

The Coleman Medal leader was part of a 25-man squad that flew out of Perth on Friday afternoon, and Lyon said the club had a back-up plan if Pavlich was unavailable.

Asked what the skipper had to do to take his place at Etihad Stadium, Lyon said: “Walk in and say, ‘Coach I’m happy to play’.”

“It’s a 50-50 at this point,” Lyon said. “We’ve got a plan with our emergencies and what’s the best way to go, but I think he’ll get up.

“We won’t take anyone that can’t perform in. Once you nominate yourself you’re fully fit, so that’s the way it works.

“We’ll give him some physical [testing]. He did some work today, he just didn’t do any full training. That often happens this time of year.

“He’s in pretty good nick so I expect him to play.”

Fremantle must win on Sunday to guarantee it holds eighth spot on the ladder and plays finals, with Carlton closing and boasting a superior percentage.

Lyon said Fremantle, which faces Melbourne at home in round 23, understood the importance of Sunday’s match and labelled the Kangaroos the “form team of the competition”.

“They’ve got three tall forwards, powerful midfielders, strong key defenders and running backs – otherwise you can’t do what they’re doing,” he said.

“They’re full of confidence at their home ground with home support, so it’s a big challenge in front of us.

“These are the games you want to be in. You want to test yourself, challenge yourself and see how much you’ve improved, because we feel like we’ve made significant improvement.

“There were a number of teams written off a long time ago and I’m pretty sure we were one of them. You keep working and focus on the job at hand and try to take care of the opportunities that present.”

North Melbourne has won nine of its past 10 games and Lyon praised the team’s midfield run and ability to play “both sides of the ball really well”.

He said competing with the Kangaroos’ deep midfield was challenge for his on-ballers, with David Mundy, Michael Barlow and Nat Fyfe entering the match in season-best form.

“They’ve got a weight of numbers running midfield that we’re going to have to combat, but we feel we’ve added a fair bit and come to hand and we’re really excited about the challenge,” Lyon said.

“We’re on the same page game-plane wise and we’re all instinctive and aggressive under pressure.

“The players know that holds them to account to what they want to do.”

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