Sydney named Kurt Tippett and Gary Rohan in their preliminary side on Thursday night but the pair are no certainties to line up for the Swans against Geelong at the MCG.
Coach John Longmire didn’t bother with any subterfuge over co-captain Jarrad McVeigh’s fitness – he’s out with a calf strain – but the other pair still carry lingering doubts.
Tippett suffered a fractured jaw just two weeks ago and Rohan’s season looked over on Saturday night when he crumpled to the SCG turf against Adelaide with a knee injury.
He cut a disconsolate figure as he was carted from the field and was on crutches after the game.
Zak Jones was brought in to replace McVeigh, while Toby Nankervis made way for Tippett.
But 2012 premiership player Nick Smith admitted Sydney’s line-up could change again when final team sheets are submitted 90 minutes before the opening bounce on Friday night.
“We’ll give them every opportunity to play,” Smith said just hours before teams were announced on Thursday night.
“I think (Rohan’s) reaction was probably exacerbated by what happened last time (when he suffered a serious injury).
“First and foremost it’s good that he’s OK and second of all that he’s a chance to play this week.”
Harry Cunningham, James Rose and Nankervis also travelled with the team should further changes be needed.
Newly crowned AFL Rising Star Callum Mills injured his hamstring in the upset qualifying loss to Greater Western Sydney and was ruled out on Wednesday.
McVeigh’s loss is a blow to the Swans, but Smith put a brave face on the veteran’s absence.
“Ins and outs this week … it doesn’t matter who plays for them and who plays for us,” he said.
“In the end it comes down to our application on Friday night.”
The Cats brought Lachie Henderson back from a knee injury, as expected – Tom Ruggles made way – while Daniel Menzel was a surprise omission with a groin strain, with Jed Bews named as his replacement.
Smith admitted he had studied Menzel’s game closely during the week in preparation for a defensive role on the dangerous forward.
The Swans go into the clash having inflicted Geelong’s only loss at Simonds Stadium this season – by 38 points – in round 16.
“It’s a long time ago now and both sides have made a lot of changes,” Smith said.
“We really respect Geelong as a footy club and they’ll play some good footy on Friday night. There will be swings of momentum and we know we have to be up for the challenge.
“We know what works and we’ve got to bring that (against the Cats).”