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Dockers back their midfield unit for Sydney litmus test

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir is backing his midfield unit to match it with Sydney's stars as the Dockers brace for the ultimate litmus test.

The Dockers (8-5-1) moved up to fifth on the ladder on Sunday with a regulation 20-point win over Gold Coast in Perth.

It lifted Fremantle to within half a win of fourth spot, but their premiership credentials will be put under the blowtorch when they face Sydney at the SCG on Saturday.

The Swans (13-1) are the clear-cut flag favourites after going three games clear on top of the ladder on the back of a 10-match winning run.

"It's a great challenge. They're at the top of their game," Longmuir said.

"We're a team that travels well, so I'm looking forward to it."

Sydney's midfield unit looms as Fremantle's biggest obstacle, especially the likes of attacking weapons Chad Warner, Isaac Heeney and Errol Gulden.

Warner has kicked 24 goals this season, Heeney has 21 and Gulden is coming off a 41-disposal, one-goal game in last week's 27-point win over GWS.

Warner
Swans midfield stars Chad Warner (l) and Isaac Heeny (r) have 45 goals between them this season. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Fremantle's midfield unit of Hayden Young, Caleb Serong, Andrew Brayshaw and Nat Fyfe have all been clearance beasts this year, but they've struggled to regularly hit the scoreboard.

That all changed against the Suns as Young (three goals), Serong (one goal) and Brayshaw (one goal) all had an impact in attack, as well as ruckman Sean Darcy (one goal).

"I think they'll go well," Longmuir replied when asked how his midfield will fare against the Swans.

"We haven't been beaten in the midfield much this year.

"We've been pretty tough, really competitive through there, and obviously that's (Sydney's) strength. So it's going to be a good battle."

Fyfe
Nat Fyfe (r) is part of a Dockers midfield who have been clearance beasts. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Longmuir accused his players of fattening their individual stat sheet in the wake of their 67-point loss to the Western Bulldogs.

The fifth-year coach was happy with how his team responded against the Suns.

"I'd never say anything in public that I wouldn't say to the players face to face," Longmuir said of his critical comments.

"I thought they came out and responded and played the way we wanted to play."

Fremantle are sweating on the fitness of skipper Alex Pearce, who injured his left arm against the Suns and was subbed out in the third quarter.

Pearce's left elbow bent back awkwardly as he fell to the ground, but Longmuir said it was more the arm that was injured in the incident.

Fellow defender Brennan Cox made a successful return from hamstring surgery on Saturday with a highly-managed stint in the WAFL reserves.

Longmuir is keen to give Cox a run in the WAFL seniors this weekend before a possible AFL return against Richmond the following week.

If Pearce is ruled out against the Swans, Josh Draper is likely to earn a recall.