FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir says it is "totally inaccurate" to assume defender Reece Conca has been overlooked in the second half of the season because of his contract trigger.
Conca this week stepped out of the Dockers' 14-day quarantine bubble for personal reasons, making him unavailable for AFL selection for the next two rounds.
It is understood the defender is two AFL games short of triggering a one-year contract extension, leaving him the final two rounds and any finals the Dockers play to meet that.
Longmuir said the 28-year-old was clear on what he needed to do to play at AFL level and he was offended by the assumption that a contract trigger would dictate a selection call.
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He said a decision on Conca's future would be made at the end of the season.
"If that was the case and we weren't playing him because of a trigger, we wouldn't have played him as the sub against Essendon and not get him on the ground," Longmuir said on Thursday.
"I'm really offended by whoever is saying that. It's totally inaccurate.
"Reece is really clear on what he needs to do to earn a spot in the team, and he hasn't been able to do that consistently enough to earn his spot back in the side. So that's where it sits."
Conca played the opening eight rounds this season and shut down several dangerous small forwards, including Greater Western Sydney star Toby Greene in round two and Hawthorn forward Luke Breust in round four.
He was named as the medical substitute in round nine and has only played one game since as the Dockers looked to other options in defence.
The former Richmond midfielder will be available for WAFL selection at Peel Thunder during the Dockers' quarantine period, which ends after the Brisbane clash in round 21.
First-year midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll has remained in the bubble and will be available for AFL selection, but not WAFL, as the 19-year-old pushes to debut.
"I've been happy with his form and progression. We just have to weigh up if he's ready," Longmuir said.
"There's going to be some opportunities that are created through injury from the weekend. We think Josh Treacy will come back in the team. He missed on the weekend with a bit of the flu."
Meanwhile, forward/ruck Rory Lobb underwent ankle surgery on Wednesday night and will not play again this season.
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It became clear this week that Lobb would not recover in time to play again in 2021, prompting the Dockers to bring forward surgery that was planned for the end of the season.
Fellow tall Sean Darcy has appeared troubled by a knee complaint in recent weeks, but Longmuir said there were no plans to rest the important big man, who is keen to play out the season.
Longmuir said the Dockers would likely replace injured captain Nat Fyfe by increasing inside midfield time for his young onballers and select another player to hold down a wing.
Key defender Alex Pearce will also need to be covered because of concussion against Richmond's three-pronged tall forward line.
Ethan Hughes is a likely option, pushing Luke Ryan into a key defensive role alongside Griffin Logue.
"We feel like we can cover him (Pearce), but we're going to have to be at our best defensively to support our key backs," Longmuir said.
Fremantle's loss to Sydney in round 19 has left it two points and percentage adrift of eighth-placed Greater Western Sydney.
Longmuir said the Dockers had not been good enough against the competition's better sides, but they were not giving up on the season.
"Whoever wants it (eighth spot), it's still up for grabs," the coach said.
"We just need to focus on us, get our footy in order, and put in a more complete four-quarter performance."