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Dockers to avoid training at Optus Stadium indefinitely

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FREMANTLE will avoid training at Optus Stadium indefinitely after ruckman Rory Lobb became the latest victim of a spate of lower-leg injuries suffered by key talls.

In a move set to raise more questions about WA's home of football, the Dockers will follow West Coast's lead by temporarily scaling back training on the venue's hard surface.  

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The Eagles lost key defender Tom Barrass to a three-month foot setback before the round five loss to Port Adelaide, with coach Adam Simpson declaring they would have to stop holding sessions at Optus following a worrying trend of lower-leg issues.  

Now Lobb is out for an extended period after reporting foot soreness following the uplifting away win over Collingwood in round 11.  

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Scans confirmed the 206cm giant has a fractured metatarsal and Lobb could join star full-back Alex Pearce (fractured ankle) and spearhead Matt Taberner (foot) on the sidelines for the rest of 2019. 

"Given the recent lower leg and foot injuries to key talls, an assessment of training and medical assessment protocols will be conducted to ensure we are operating at best practice," football boss Peter Bell said.

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The Dockers typically stage a session at Optus before home games but will remain at Cockburn leading up to Saturday's clash with Port Adelaide and while they assess their training protocols.

When Taberner went down for the second time in just over 12 months, coach Ross Lyon was reluctant to blame Optus for the big man's issues. 

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"I don't think we can assert that it's Optus, but we know we had more feet issues last year, so we've worked hard to stay on top of that this year," Lyon said on May 22. 

Pearce denied Optus Stadium was to blame for his fractured ankle when he was discharged from hospital last Friday. 

But the Eagles have long-held concerns about the stadium's hardness.

Before round one, they lost small forward Willie Rioli (foot) for an eventual two-month hiatus, while Elliot Yeo (toe), Jamie Cripps (toe), Jack Redden (Achilles) and Barrass (foot) have suffered problems over the past year. 

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Without Pearce and Lobb, Freo will have to call on their big man depth, with young ruckman Sean Darcy and forgotten defender Griffin Logue in line to return.

Darcy hasn't played since sustaining an ankle injury while playing for Peel four weeks ago, and is the next in line with veteran Aaron Sandilands (calf) sidelined indefinitely.


Scott Jones and Lloyd Meek are also available if Darcy isn't ready. 

Logue's excellent pre-season was ruined by hamstring issues, but the 21-year-old is likely to come in for Pearce and play his first game since round 22, 2017 after last season was wiped out by foot problems.

Optus Stadium has been contacted for comment.