FREMANTLE is hopeful important tall Rory Lobb has escaped a serious knee injury but the Dockers appear certain to reshuffle their attack for their season opener against Melbourne at the MCG.
Lobb will undergo scans on his left knee after being helped from the ground in Sunday's AAMI Community Series loss to West Coast, with coach Justin Longmuir saying the club was "reasonably confident it's not the worst-case scenario".
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The coach said star forward Michael Walters believed he had suffered a "low grade" hamstring strain, which was likely to rule him out for the clash against the Demons in 14 days.
It is Lobb's injury that will force the most structural change for the Dockers, however, with the club already light on tall forwards and ruckmen as Sean Darcy races the clock to return from a knee injury.
"It’s the worst possible time to get injured. He’s holding out hope of dodging a bullet," Longmuir said.
"He’ll get scanned and we’ll know clarity with his path forward. He’s an important part of our team, and we’re going to miss him."
Longmuir said rookie tall Josh Treacy was a tall option for round one after a strong pre-season, while one of the club's tall defenders may need to swing forward.
Brennan Cox is the defender with the most experience in attack, but he has been outstanding as a backman all pre-season, kicking on from a breakout 2020. Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling are the other options.
"Reluctant to, but we’re going to have to weigh up all our options and see what will give us our best balanced team," Longmuir said.
"If we go in too short, it’s going to put too much pressure on (Matt) Taberner and clearly Lobb was our second ruck as well.
"We’ve got some work to do on what our best team looks like without him in it. We’ll get all the cards on the table over the next couple of weeks and see what’s best for the team."
Longmuir said young midfielders Adam Cerra (calf) and Caleb Serong (soreness) would be fit for round one, with club champion Luke Ryan also on track after a heavy hit in last week's scratch match.
Ruckman Sean Darcy is "touch and go" and presents an option for Longmuir in the forward/ruck role Lobb has played, rather than as the No.1 big man, which could be filled by Lloyd Meek.
West Coast coach Adam Simpson was pleased with his team's performance, saying the Eagles rediscovered their "identity" in the 10-point win after lacking intensity in last week's scratch match.
He confirmed the club was "playing with the idea" of using young forward Oscar Allen in defence at stages after he rotated back through Sunday's clash, kicking two goals when forward.
"Especially when Josh (Kennedy) comes back and there’s some height in our front half and can we mix it up a bit," Simpson said.
"It’s not saying we’re going to do it round one, but it’s an option for us and these are the games where you trial a couple of things.
"He’s a pretty good player wherever he plays, 'Ozzie', so that was a tick for us but whether we do it going forward, that will be determined."
Nathan Vardy looks set to start the season as the Eagles' second ruckman after supporting club champion Nic Naitanui on Sunday, with Bailey Williams "touch and go" for round one.
"We'll see how everyone pulls up and assess the game, but at the moment that's what we started with today," the coach said.
Star pair Josh Kennedy (calf) and Tim Kelly (thumb) are set to play in match simulation next weekend and will play in round one if they get through that unscathed.
Captain Luke Shuey played his planned minutes after building back from a calf complaint and had no injury concerns after leaving the ground in the third quarter.
"I think he stood on someone’s foot and he just tweaked it but he’s fine," Simpson said.