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Instant recall unlikely for prolific Freo mid, but McCarthy a chance

Connor Blakely is fit again, but unlikely to earn an immediate recall - AFL,Fremantle Dockers,Connor Blakely,Ross Lyon
Connor Blakely is fit again, but unlikely to earn an immediate recall

THE ODDS are against Connor Blakely earning an immediate call-up to Fremantle's winning outfit, but mobile forward Cam McCarthy is a strong chance to return for Saturday night's marquee clash with the Western Bulldogs. 

Blakely, viewed as an ideal replacement for departed Doig medallist Lachie Neale in midfield, hasn't been sighted at any level this season after suffering a serious hamstring injury in January.

The strong-bodied 23-year-old has been pushing hard at training to get straight back into the line-up but is unlikely to be recalled for David Mundy's 300th game.

"When you're winning it means people are in form, it's a very tough spot to get into," Lyon said.

"It's more unlikely than likely, but he's conditioned to be able to play if we need him."

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McCarthy needs to train later this week to put his hand up after missing the uplifting 24-point win over his former club Greater Western Sydney due to a virus.  

His potential comeback could force a reshuffle, with Brennan Cox a candidate to move back to defence to cover for the suspended Taylin Duman. 

"It's disappointing to lose Taylin, he learns a lesson," Lyon said.

Cox went scoreless after coming into the line-up for McCarthy but was part of a potent forward mix which topped the ton for the second time this season in Canberra. 

"I thought the midfield gave plenty of supply and our forwards capitalised on it, and I thought Cox played a part in that," Lyon said.

"It's about kicking goals and seeing goals kicked, so he helped see goals kicked." 

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While the Dockers' victory in Canberra was a huge boost, they continue to be plagued by soft-tissue setbacks.

Harley Bennell's hopes of an AFL comeback faded further after yet another calf injury, while Hayden Ballantyne tore his hamstring again during his return for Peel on Good Friday. 

Lyon felt disappointment for his veterans – including warhorse Aaron Sandilands (calf) and Stephen Hill (quad/calf) – amid struggles to get going but denied being frustrated.

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"I know that our conditioners are elite. Three-quarter time against St Kilda, (Nat) Fyfe is knocked out, Brad Hill has got a cork, they're as good a running team in the competition and we outrun them and work them," he said.

"We got to GWS, three-quarter time, great running team, we run and work really hard.

"I look around the League and there's older players with injuries, I mean Shaun Burgoyne, you just look around." 

Amid a furore over Optus Stadium's firm surface, Lyon conceded the Dockers have had concerns in the past but believed there were "lots of threads" that caused injuries. 

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"Certainly we suffered some injuries (last year), plantar fascia, not too dissimilar, a couple of similar incidents," Lyon said. 

"So I understand the frustration. Fortunately this year we've had a good run with it and we hope that run continues."

Ahead of his milestone, Lyon lauded durable campaigner Mundy, who is set to join Matthew Pavlich as the only members of the 300-game club from either WA team.

Pavlich hit the landmark in round nine, 2014 and the Dockers, 4-4 at the time, rose to the occasion, inflicting Geelong's second loss of the season by 32 points.

Lyon hoped Freo's current crop would honour Mundy's celebration through performance. 

"To make it at AFL and be a top-flight player for that long, you've got to be of extreme quality and mental toughness," he said.

"What we need our players to do is show their respect for David through their actions against the Bulldogs, because talk is cheap."

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