Lance Franklin’s stop-start AFL season has been halted by a knee injury that will further test Sydney’s depth and finals ambitions.
- Franklin sustained bone bruising during the Swans’ loss to the Giants on Saturday
- The Swans do not expect Franklin to be available to play again until round nine
- The club has also been hit by a knee injury to ruckman Tom Hickey
Franklin, having only recently returned to full fitness after battling a series of soft-tissue injuries that restricted him to one AFL match in 21 months, will spend up to a month on the sidelines because of bone bruising on his knee.
He suffered his latest setback during the third quarter of the Swans’ two-point loss to Greater Western Sydney in their round-five match at the SCG on Saturday, the club’s first defeat of the season.
The four-time Coleman medallist played on after his clash of legs with GWS defender Connor Idun but felt sore on Sunday and follow-up scans delivered the injury verdict.
Franklin’s earliest possible return is likely to be in round nine against Collingwood, although the 34-year-old is determined to prove the club’s medical staff wrong.
“He reckons it’ll be two [weeks on the sidelines], we’ve said three to four, so that probably gives you an idea of where the discussions go,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“We’ll see how he goes.”
The Swans have proven they can play well without talismanic forward Franklin, most notably and recently when they upset reigning premiers Richmond at the MCG in round three.
Equally, Longmire knows the coming weeks will test his third-placed side’s depth.
He confirmed that in-form ruckman Tom Hickey will be out of action for six to eight weeks because of a knee injury, also suffered in the Giants defeat.
Dane Rampe (broken finger) and Isaac Heeney (broken hand), who were both enforced omissions for the Giants clash, and Hickey had also been pivotal in the promising 4-0 start to the season before the weekend loss.
“If you want to take that next step in your development as a team, you need to deal with injuries to key players,” Longmire said.
“Sometimes it’s a few key players.
“It’s just part of what AFL footy is … you have to roll with the punches.
“We’ve some options there [to replace Franklin and Hickey], some experience and some youth.
“Form underneath is really important. Because when you get your opportunity, you want to take it with both hands. Help us be competitive and help your case in terms of playing footy.”
Swans midfielder James Rowbottom is on track to return from his knee injury against Gold Coast on Saturday, while Hayden McLean and Callum Sinclair headline the other leading candidates for call-ups.