Sydney Swans coach John Longmire has backed forward Lance Franklin to get better as his side prepare to enter the AFL finals without co-captain Kieren Jack.
Longmire expects midfielder Jack to be out for two to three weeks with suspected medial ligament damage to his knee. An injury he suffered in the first quarter of Saturday night’s 63-point home win over Gold Coast.
The Swans were already down one gun midfielder with reigning best and fairest Luke Parker missing the last three games with a broken fibula and facing a battle to be fit for next Saturday’s qualifying final away to minor premiers Fremantle.
Sydney go into that match on the back of four straight wins, all against teams who missed out on the finals.
Longmire expects utility Gary Rohan to play despite collecting a knee knock which forced him off the ground in the final quarter on Saturday.
He said Sydney’s other co-captain, Jarrad McVeigh, was certain to face Fremantle after withdrawing on the eve of the Suns clash with a calf issue.
Longmire expected defender Nick Smith would be available after missing Saturday’s game with a hamstring issue.
He said small forward-midfielder Ben McGlynn would also be in the selection mix after coming through a second straight game in the reserves.
The Swans have kicked 39 goals over the past two weeks, but Franklin has contributed just two of those since returning from a back injury.
He was substituted against St Kilda and struggled for impact against the Suns, tallying 13 possessions with six marks and kicked 1.1.
Franklin’s sole goal was Sydney’s 19th and last of the evening but he should have had two majors, as he missed his other shot into an open goal from around 35 metres.
“He trained this week fully, he needed another game,” Longmire said.
“He’ll train next week and play, so we think he’ll get better as he goes.”
The good news for Longmire is that Sydney have found plenty of other avenues to goal.
The coach said Sam Reid and Kurt Tippett, who between them nabbed 20 marks and kicked 5.6 against the Suns, were giving Sydney a presence up forward.
“(Reid) went through a bit of a lean patch there for about three or four weeks up in the forward line, but his last three or four weeks have been really good,” Longmire said.
“(Tippett) has been playing a terrific block of footy in the ruck and going forward and he’s got some confidence now.”
Longmire also found plenty to like about small forwards Harry Cunningham, Dean Towers and Isaac Heeney who combined to kick 7.0 against the Suns.
Sydney have made the finals in all five years of Longmire’s tenure and notched four consecutive top-four placings.
“To have another top-four finish is a credit to the football club and the players,” Longmire said.
“It’s not an easy thing to do, but we’ve been able to do it once again and it allows us now to reset for the new season that starts this week.”
He isn’t reading much into a second-string Freo side’s 69-point final round loss to Port Adelaide.
“I assume it will be a fair bit of different personnel next week, so we won’t put a lot of weight into what happened,” Longmire said.