Dockers expect Pearce to return in AFL

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Fremantle expect key defender Alex Pearce to return from injury as coach Justin Longmuir rejects suggestions his AFL side's keys have been unlocked.

Pearce is tipped to return from a calf injury which ruled him out of last Saturday's 17-point loss to Sydney.

The Swans used patient possession-based tactics in their win, recording 127 uncontested marks to Fremantle's 70.

But Longmuir dismisses suggestions that ploy is how to dismantle his fourth-placed outfit.

"A lot probably gets made of the way Sydney chipped it around especially in that third quarter," Longmuir told reporters on Tuesday, referring to the Swans' 3.4 to 0.4 third term.

"We were way too slow to react and adjust and we didn't have the right energy we needed to.

"We covered that off but there were other aspects to the game I was more disappointed in.

"Outside of stoppage they won the one-on-ones and the critical contests ... so that was pretty disappointing.

"It's a real quick fix, the defensive stuff.

"I think we have proven we can defend that type of ball movement all year. It has been one of our strengths and we just had an off quarter."

In addition to Pearce's likely return, versatile tall Rory Lobb was expected to overcome a shoulder injury and play against Richmond on Friday night at Melbourne's Marvel Stadium.

"The last couple of days he has taken a step in the right direction so I am hopeful," Longmuir said.

"He is an important player to us, he structures us up really well and second ruck, so we will give him every opportunity."

And despite the eighth-placed Tigers' loss to last-placed North Melbourne, Longmuir remained wary of Damien Hardwick's side team.

"Their best is up there with the best in the comp," he said.

"They have proven that they can score heavily, then when they don't quite get it right they can get scored against.

"So they will be striving for a four-quarter effort and we need to produce the same."

The Dockers are one win shy of top spot on the ladder but also just one win ahead of seventh.

"They're all important (games), aren't they, and they have all got great meaning and ramifications.

"We don't try and get caught up in the outcomes and ladder positions.

"We need to get back to playing our brand of footy for longer so that is what we're working hard at.

"But it's an exciting time of the year and the ramifications are high and we understand that, but we just need to make sure we remain really focussed and process orientated."

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