Alex Silvagni
Alex Silvagni

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon says he expects to learn a great deal about the character of his playing group when they attempt a massive upset against Collingwood on Saturday.

The Dockers flew out for the MCG clash on Thursday minus several key players, with Aaron Sandilands out on a long-term basis and Stephen Hill, Zac Dawson and Anthony Morabito all falling short of proving their fitness.

Hayden Ballantyne is back from suspension and Dylan Roberton earned a recall, while Hayden Crozier was ruled out through illness and Jesse Crichton did not travel in the 24-man squad.

First-year players Lee Spurr and Tom Sheridan are the travelling emergencies for the 12th-placed side, who enter the game with a 6-6 win-loss record.

Fremantle are paying around $6.50 with most bookmakers to stun the league-leading Magpies and Lyon admitted it was a major challenge, albeit one his side were not afraid of.

"They are a benchmark team in the competition that has won their last nine in a row and they've got 16 premiership Grand Final players playing," he said.

"You like to play the best and getting a measure of where you're at.

"We'll see who the competitors in the team and the club are and we're pretty keen to give great effort and see where we're at."

Hill (ankle) and Dawson (knee) had been expected to push for selection after missing last week's home loss to Essendon but Lyon said it would have been too risky to play them.

"They were pretty close, not as close as we'd like. They'll get another week and another opportunity and we're really hopeful that both of them will get through next week," he said.

Morabito's hopes of playing his first AFL game since the 2010 finals were also dashed after he suffered a concussion in the WAFL on Sunday, which Lyon admitted was a significant setback.

"It's certainly hindered his week. He wasn't able to train fully today," Lyon said.

"They (Morabito's WAFL club Peel) have got a bye unfortunately. But we can bang a lot of work into him."

Dawson's slow recovery gives Alex Silvagni the chance for redemption after Michael Hurley kicked six goals on the key defender for Essendon last week.

Despite Silvagni's struggles in just his second game of the year, he could be handed another daunting assignment this week in the form of Travis Cloke.

"He wasn't at his best last week so he gets another opportunity to prove his worth and get going, so that's exciting for him," Lyon said.

"They've only got the two tall forwards and (Tyson) Goldsack, so at some point you'd think he might have to play on (Cloke)."


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