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Dockers given green light to rest up to 11 players in final round

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The AFL position is the club is fully complying with the AFL's rules

FREMANTLE coach Ross Lyon is prepared to wear the criticism if his decision to rest up to 11 players against Port Adelaide this week does not result in a win in the qualifying final.

The AFL gave Fremantle the green light on Monday to rest a large group of players this week after the Dockers secured top spot on the ladder with one round to go on Sunday.

Lyon told Perth radio station 6PR on Monday night that any criticism or praise of the move would fall on his shoulders.

"There will be people ready to criticise if it doesn't go our way and there'll be lots of bouquets if it does," Lyon said.

"That's just the business we're in. You've got to make decisions.

“Ultimately the buck will stop with me and I'm happy to wear (it).”

Lyon first raised his intention of resting players following the 54-point win over Melbourne on Sunday and the club contacted the AFL on Monday to clarify the rules on taking such action.

In October 2013, the AFL Commission tightened the League's integrity rules to avoid the prospect of clubs resting players en masse late in the season to improve their finals draw.

The change came six weeks after Lyon's third-placed Dockers made 11 changes for their clash with 16th-ranked St Kilda and lost by 71 points.

On Monday the AFL confirmed in a statement that the competition's rules allowed the Dockers to manage their players' workload.

The rule that decided whether Lyon could rest his stars

"The AFL advises it has been kept informed today by the Fremantle Football Club of its potential plans around selection for this weekend's round 23 match against Port Adelaide," the statement said. 

"Under the AFL Rules, Fremantle is entitled to consider the management of injury and fatigue for its players before the upcoming Toyota AFL Finals series and the AFL position is the club is fully complying with the AFL's rules."

Earlier on Monday, the Dockers released a statement saying up to 11 players from the team that beat Melbourne were in the frame to be rested.  

The players were not at the club on Monday, as part of their normal routine, and Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said the club would not be able to make a formal assessment on which players might not be selected until Tuesday.

"When the players return to the club on Tuesday, our coaching team and medical staff will be able to assess the fatigue and injury status of our main group," Rosich said.

"At this stage our initial assessment is that up to 11 of the players who played in round 22 may not be selected for our round 23 fixture.

"We will liaise with the AFL throughout the week as we finalise our position on player availability."

The 11 players most likely to be rested would be Garrick Ibbotson, Danyle Pearce, David Mundy, Luke McPharlin, Michael Barlow, Chris Mayne, Lachie Neale, Matthew Pavlich, Aaron Sandilands, Stephen Hill and Lee Spurr.

Nick Suban is another who could be considered after playing every game this year. Cam Sutcliffe could miss through injury, given he dislocated his shoulder during the last quarter on Sunday's match. Veteran Michael Johnson would be unlikely to be rested given he missed eight matches with a hamstring injury mid-year.  

One by-product of the Dockers' mass resting of players would be the effect on their WAFL partner club Peel Thunder, which will play in its inaugural final this week.

Rosich said the club had been in regular contact with Peel officials since Sunday night and would continue to be this week.

Peel does have the double chance after finishing third in the WAFL's five-team finals format.