FREMANTLE looks set to take two ruckmen into Friday night's blockbuster against Melbourne regardless of Rory Lobb's fitness, with Lloyd Meek on standby for the clash against the Demons.
Lobb got through main training on Tuesday but is awaiting the final tick off to return from a chest injury suffered against Sydney in round 18, with the important forward/ruck an onlooker at a light touch session on Wednesday.
The Dockers used swingman Griffin Logue as a back-up ruckman against Richmond last Friday night, but coach Justin Longmuir said more support would likely be needed against the Demons' premiership duo of Max Gawn and Luke Jackson.
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"We've got Lloyd Meek who's in great form, (and) I think Melbourne are a team we probably need two genuine rucks against, so that's an option if [Lobb] doesn't get up," he said on Wednesday.
"He hasn't got the final tick off, but he's pretty close. Until the doctors come and say he's absolutely available, which they haven't done yet, there is always a little bit of doubt.
"He trained yesterday and got through enough in my eyes. I wouldn't read too much into what he did out there today."
Longmuir refused to buy into speculation this week that Lobb had recently informed the Dockers of his desire to be traded at the end of the season.
The coach has previously stated that he wants the contracted forward to remain with the Dockers in 2023 and Lobb had reassured him that producing his best football this season was his top priority.
"It is what it is. We've commented on it plenty of times. I've stated my stance on it. And that's where it's at," Longmuir said.
Fremantle trained at Optus Stadium this week after requesting access to the ground so it can get used to the compromised surface following a heavy recent events schedule.
St Kilda coach Brett Ratten expressed concern about the surface following last Sunday's match against West Coast, and Longmuir said it remained an issue players would have to adjust to.
"The way you've seen it is the way it was yesterday," he said.
"The wing that doesn't get a lot of sunlight is getting a little bit heavy and chopped up. The outer side is fine.
"We weren't allowed a lot of access to that, but the footing is different there and all over the ground at the moment and it's something we need to make sure we get used to.
"It's really hard for them to get it pristine again before the end of the season, and we need to get used to it … we put our case forward and they were really good."
Key defender Alex Pearce will be fine to face Melbourne after rolling an ankle last Friday night and playing through, with Longmuir forecasting "a couple of changes" as Nat Fyfe misses with a hamstring injury.
He was wary of Melbourne after a period of scrutiny for the reigning premier, which has lost five of its past eight games to now be vulnerable in the top four.
"I still think their best footy is as good as anyone," Longmuir said.
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"I think they would admit they haven't been as consistent within games as they would like, but just to look at their win-loss is probably a little bit fraught with danger.
"They kicked 74 points in the first half last week (against the Western Bulldogs), which is dominant.
"We've looked at their best footy, and it hasn't changed too much. It's still going to be a real challenge for us.”