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Lyon’s insight into 2018

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 2: Ross Lyon, Senior Coach of the Dockers poses for a photograph during an AFL.com.au portrait session at AFL House on February 2, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Senior coach Ross Lyon has given an insight into his plans for 2018.

Senior coach Ross Lyon has given an insight into his plans for 2018, discussing a number of options at his disposal in an interview with afl.com.au.

Lyon expects defender Nathan Wilson, a key addition in the 2017 NAB AFL Trade Period, to set an example as Fremantle looks to be more damaging when transitioning from defence to attack.

The former GWS Giant was second in the AFL for metres gained in 2017, behind only Brownlow Medalist Dustin Martin, as he provided his run out of half-back.

"We just want Nathan to do what he does – run, take it on and kick with penetration – and I think he'll do it really well for us," Lyon told afl.com.au.

"We'd like to play with a bit more penetration as a team. We've been a bit stagnant with the ball and we'd like to get away from that and get our backs running and joining in like they did (early last year).

"And Nathan should help us in that area."

After a year and a half on the sidelines with a broken leg, Alex Pearce is set to make his return from injury in 2018.

Lyon hopes the 22-year-old defender can provide a number of options on his return.

"Alex can't believe how well he's handling it after such a tough run,” Lyon said. 

“He's an important cog in our machine. He's tall, quick, big tank, great leader, tough, and can play either end, so he's been significant for helping us feel good about ourselves.”

Lyon faces a selection problem in Fremantle’s ruck stocks, with the emerging Sean Darcy competing for a ruck spot with Aaron Sandilands, still one of the premier rucks in the competition.

Ideally, Lyon would like to ensure Darcy’s education continues at AFL level without limiting the impact of Sandilands.

"It's a question we've got to work through,” Lyon said.

“We'd like to play both and see how that looks, how it affects everybody, how damaging they can be, or how vulnerable the two big guys make us because (reigning premier) Richmond had Shaun Grigg, so I might have to put Nat Fyfe as a mobile ruck.” 

While Lyon’s suggestion of Fyfe as a ruckman was likely in jest, he is still open to the idea of using the Freo captain and fellow midfielder David Mundy as targets in Freo’s forwardline.

"He’s certainly an aerial threat forward and we'd like to increase our capacity in the air in the front half,” Lyon said.

“Both Nathan and David can both play an important role in that.”

Fremantle doubled their wins from four to eight in 2017, however, the side missed the finals for the second straight season.

Despite this, Lyon says he’s enjoying the challenge of developing a youthful core of players.

"Whether I've got the oldest list or the youngest list, coaching is teaching,” Lyon said.

"I find it incredibly enjoyable, and I find it less stressful, because everyone understands we want to win but history tells you what lays ahead and we're just trying to speed it up.  

"I'm finding it as enjoyable a time as I've experienced in AFL football."

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs