Aliir Aliir shapes as Sydney’s hard-luck story this week, with teammates saying the injured key defender deserves to play the AFL grand final.
Aliir (knee), co-captain Jarrad McVeigh (calf) and young gun Callum Mills (hamstring) are all racing the clock as they seek to prove their fitness for Saturday’s season decider against Western Bulldogs.
The injured trio were among a handful of sore Swans to sit out Monday’s hit-out at the SCG.
Sydney’s main session for the week is on Wednesday and if Aliir is unable to move well then he almost certainly won’t be risked.
McVeigh and Mills trained on Sunday and are very much in the mix for recalls.
Aliir, who strained the medial ligament in his right knee in the Swans’ preliminary final win over Geelong, is considered less likely to play at the MCG.
It could potentially mean Ted Richards, who announced in August this season would be his last and hasn’t played at AFL level since round 17 , is granted a farewell match alongside brother Xavier.
It’s a scenario that wouldn’t sit comfortably with many Swans, not even Ted’s brother Xavier.
“If that happens that’s great for Ted but I would feel very sorry for Aliir because he 100 per cent deserves it,” Xavier Richards told AAP.
Ted Richards was chaired off the field after training on Monday but warned on Twitter not to read too much into it, saying a few teammates were going for the record “for most chairing someone off”.
Swans coach John Longmire suggested the club would have a better idea of Aliir, McVeigh and Mills’ chances after Wednesday’s session.
“We certainly expect Callum to do a fair bit, Aliir probably to do a little bit less,” Longmire said.
“Jarrad we’re just waiting to see. He’ll certainly do a bit but just how much we’re not quite sure yet.”
Veteran Heath Grundy backed Aliir to make a remarkable recovery and face the Bulldogs.
“I can’t see why not,” Grundy said of Aliir, who made his debut in round six and has played 13 games this year.
“He’s pretty switched on and he’s really matured in the last 12 months. He’s got a lot more confident, he’s fitter and stronger .. and playing some solid AFL footy.”
Longmire suggested it would be a combined call on all three, with the club’s coaches and medical staff to sit down with each player on Thursday.
McVeigh, who has featured in 286 games for the Swans, won’t be empowered to make his own decision.
But Longmire added the 31-year-old would know his body a lot better than Mills and Aliir.
“Jarrad is an experienced player and understands what he can and can’t play with, but we all make the call together,” Longmire said.
“We sit down and work out what he’s able to do and how comfortable he feels and make the decision together.
“We made the decision last week not to push Jarrad and I’m pretty confident it was the right call.”
Selecting a grand-final side will always throw up some of the toughest conundrums of any coaching career.
Longmire knows it well, having ruled out a heartbroken and hamstrung Ben McGlynn in 2012.
Meanwhile, the 2012 premiership coach was full of praise for the Bulldogs’ epic win over Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.
“Their pressure around the ball is as good as I’ve seen,” Longmire said.