Massive task for Swans against Dockers

Sydney coach John Longmire and co-captain Jarrad McVeigh insist the Swans are up to the massive challenge of taking on minor premiers Fremantle in Saturday’s qualifying final without superstar Lance Franklin.

It is unclear when the AFL’s most high-profile player will return to action after it was revealed on Tuesday he was dealing with a serious mental health issue.

The Swans will be without three of their very best players against the Dockers.

Co-captain Kieren Jack injured his knee in the round-23 win over Gold Coast while fellow midfield star Luke Parker has yet to recover from a broken leg.

But it is the absence of Franklin – and the reason for it – which is dominating the headlines.

The spearhead is sidelined indefinitely although the Swans insists it is unrelated to an epileptic seizure he suffered last Friday.

Longmire said Franklin’s mental health condition was treatable, but refused to put a time-frame on when he might return.

“It’s a serious condition, that he needs to spend some time away from the football club, and he certainly won’t be playing this week,” said the coach.

“How long that will take, we’ll just have to wait and see.

“Obviously our thoughts are with Lance and we hope that he’s going to be okay.”

Longmire said he had been aware of Franklin’s condition for some time.

The coach must now turn his attention to Saturday’s clash against red-hot favourites Fremantle at Domain Stadium, with the winners to go straight through to the preliminary final.

McVeigh will return to the Sydney lineup after recovering from a calf strain.

“We know everyone is going to say why we can’t win this game of footy,” McVeigh said.

“But we’re pretty confident in our ability and the way we go about things, that our footy will stand up.

“We’ve dealt with a few things throughout the year, but we’re strong enough mentally and a strong enough group to be able to cope with these things.”

In Franklin’s absence, Sam Reid will play a more important role in the Swans’ forward set-up.

At the age of 21, Reid held down centre half-forward during Sydney’s 2012 premiership campaign, only to slip down the pecking order with the arrival in recent seasons of twin towers Franklin and Kurt Tippett.

But he has stepped up in the past fortnight with 21 marks and five goals in the wins over St Kilda and Gold Coast.

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