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Docker Hayden Young embraces taking the middle road

Hayden Young has revealed his move to Fremantle's midfield was 18 months in the making, and says he's now loving life alongside Nat Fyfe, Caleb Serong and Andrew Brayshaw.

Young burst onto the AFL scene as a rebounding defender with a lethal left-foot kick.

But his trial as a midfielder late last season was such a success he has now been granted a full-time licence in the position.

Young is averaging a career-high 24.9 possessions, 4.3 clearances and 6.4 tackles this season in what is shaping as a standout campaign.

And with Fyfe, Serong and Brayshaw also firing, Fremantle's midfield has proven a huge strength in their 4-3 start to the year.

Although Young's switch to midfield duties late last year came as a welcome surprise, it had come after much planning.

"I probably had it in my mind for a while before I transitioned," Young said ahead of Sunday's clash with Richmond at the MCG.

"Playing as a high half-back, quite often you go to stoppage meetings.

"I would stay behind and listen to the midfield/centre work bounce stuff.

"I probably had a year-and-a-half of my internship before I actually played midfield.

"So I felt like when I stepped into the role, I knew what I had to do, which meant I could come in and play football, and I didn't have to stress too much."

So does Young label himself as a defender or a midfielder now?

"I think I'm officially a midfielder," he said with a laugh.

"I'm loving it. I've got great support around me. When Caleb Serong is having 17 clearances, it makes my job easier."

Serong's club-record clearance masterclass in last week's 24-point win over the Bulldogs was a huge highlight.

But the biggest talking point to come out of the match was the stunning form of Nat Fyfe, who tallied 37 disposals, seven clearances and a goal in his most prolific performance since 2019.

"The best part is he's not going out there trying to be the best player. He's just trying to be 2024 Nat Fyfe," Young said.

"When he's playing good footy, we all stand taller."

Fremantle will start warm favourites against injury-hit Richmond (1-6).

The Dockers have been boosted by the return of spearhead Jye Amiss from concussion, forcing last week's debutant Pat Voss out of the side.

Defender Josh Draper, subbed out last week with a tight hamstring, has been given the green light to play.

Richmond welcome back Jayden Short and Tyler Sonsie, but Jacob Hopper (hamstring) and Jack Graham (hamstring) were ruled out.