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Triple treat of tall forwards keeps Dockers coach Ross Lyon up at night

“Jesse is a bona fide A-grade key forward, but he’s certainly not a saviour,” Lyon told afl.com.au.

“AFL footy is not about one player.”

With Hogan (195cm) and Lobb (207cm) now available for selection alongside Taberner (199cm), Brennan Cox (193cm) and Cameron McCarthy (192cm), Lyon said Fremantle’s forward line would definitely transform this season after appearing “a little undersized” in 2018.

But he said a Dockers midfield minus Lachie Neale would need to get the footy quickly inside 50 metres if the club was to take advantage of their new aerial targets up forward.

“You’ve got to give them a chance to get the ball when you can and give them good ground-level support … so our challenge is to make sure we get the ball to Hogan, Taberner, Lobb and those guys,” Lyon said.

Fremantle showed off its new triple-threat of talls at training last Friday, with Hogan, Lobb and Taberner taking part in forward drills opposed to Alex Pearce and Griffin Logue.

“The trend in AFL footy is the smaller mobile forward line but the Eagles were able to play taller, so how many (talls) exactly we play we’re going to have to work through it,” Lyon said.

“Until we get to games and assess availability, it’s a case of best-laid plans.”

Lyon admitted the loss of Neale to Brisbane in the trade period, the delayed start to 2019 of running wingman Stephen Hill (quad) and injury last week to Connor Blakely (hamstring), who was earmarked for more time in the midfield, had forced him to alter his midfield mix.

“We had Connor Blakely playing midfield last week but we won’t see him until round seven now. It makes it hard,” the Dockers coach said.

“It’s a little bit difficult. It’s a daily thing going through my mind, trying to figure it out.”

Veteran ball magnet David Mundy is likely to spend more time midfield after long stints up forward last season while new recruits Reece Conca and Travis Colyer and further development from youngsters Andrew Brayshaw and Adam Cerra would help Fremantle hold their own in the midfield stakes.

“With Fyfe, Mundy, Brayshaw, Cerra and Conca going through there, we’re still pretty healthy and on our wings we’ve got enormous run with Brad Hill, Ed Langdon, Darcy Tucker and Colyer,” Lyon said.

“Michael Walters is a pretty handy midfielder too … but again it’s just trying to get to the line healthy.

“I think we can structure up there pretty quickly if we do.”

Fremantle has finished 16th, 14th and 14th after claiming the 2015 minor premiership and turned over 31 players since 2016 to now have a list with only 11 squad members older than 25.

“We’re young, but that’s exciting… we’re building, we want to improve and we’re aiming to play finals,” Lyon said.

Jesse Hogan at Dockers HQ shortly after being traded last year.

Jesse Hogan at Dockers HQ shortly after being traded last year.

“But in saying that, we fell off the cliff in 2016, played what we had, then went to the draft in 2017 and 2018, so it’s still relatively early.

“From my view we improved last year and I expect us to improve again. We see really bright futures for Cerra, Brayshaw, Stefan Giro, Brennan Cox, Luke Ryan, Sean Darcy, Darcy Tucker… all those kind of guys.

“You hear the pressures of timeframe. Are you going to win? How long does a rebuild take? I’m not stuck on that, I know it takes time.

“But no one wants to win and improve quicker than I do and our players do. We’re committed to that, we want it to happen quickly, but I understand there are going to be some ups and downs.”

Hogan, 23, who joined Fremantle last October with a pre-existing navicular injury that sidelined him from Melbourne’s finals campaign, took part in a full competitive training session at the club’s Cockburn base last Friday and was on track for a round one debut.

“Jesse Hogan is coming along really well, he’s doing about 50 per cent of full training,” Lyon said.

“It’s a very serious injury and I’ve said to Jesse, ‘When you’re right, you’ll play.’

“Because it’s such a long-term (injury) … it can change so quickly on the positive or the negative side and I don’t get caught up on it.

“But he’s progressing really well, so that’s all we can ask. He’s come in and he trains hard, he’s going quite well.”

Lyon was also hopeful Harley Bennell could overcome his horror run of soft-tissue injuries that have kept him to just two games in three seasons at Fremantle.

The number two draft pick suffered calf tightness at training last week but had otherwise enjoyed his best pre-season in years.

“He’s on a program where we’re building him up to three sessions a week,” Lyon said.

“As he said, he’s done more this year than he’s done in four years – his body has allowed him to.

“He still hasn’t been able to do the exact level of work of Andrew (Brayshaw) or Nat Fyfe, but he’s not far off.

“I wasn’t at a session on a Friday and Peter Bell rang me and they were all raving about how he trained. So it was exciting for Harley and us, but there’s plenty of work to go.”

David writes about sports and lifestyle for WAtoday.

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