Suspension and the bye have combined to supercharge Lance Franklin for the Swans’ assault on the finals.
A special training program was activated for the veteran in his two-week break after ran into the bye.
A refreshed Franklin, 35, returns this week for the clash against an improving Port Adelaide in Adelaide, with a victory ensuring the seventh-placed Swans will stay in touch with the top four and the double chance on a crowded ladder.
Swans coach John Longmire said Franklin had a few days off before returning to training.
He did some high-speed running that he really needs, Longmire said on Tuesday. I’ve spoken about that many times, that’s a really important part of his program.
He was able to do some high-speed running and some more gym work. So he had the break but also had a couple of weeks to get himself right physically for the back end of the year. Hopefully that’ll pay some dividends.
He was out there training today and trained quite well. He’ll have another sharpen-up on Thursday and hopefully be ready to play for Saturday.
Franklin is in the last season of a nine-year, $10 million deal and has shown remarkable longevity for a 199cm, 106kg footballer given he failed to play a match in 2020 because of ongoing injuries.
The Swans used the second half of that season to with a specially formulated training program that resulted in him completing 18 games last year for 51 goals and ten matches so far this season for 28 goals. That included his historic 1000th goal in the round-two victory against Geelong.
That program has been reinforced over the past fortnight after Franklin kicked five goals in his most recent match
The Swans did it again without Franklin in their last game, coming from behind to
Franklin is likely to replace young forward Joel Amartey in the side that overcame the Demons but there will be selection complications
With fellow ruckman Peter Ladhams having a good first season after crossing from Port Adelaide, the Swans have shown a willingness to play him and Hickey in the same side given both can also be dangerous up forward.
This would usually push veteran Sam Reid out of the side, but the athletic key forward and occasional ruckman has played some of his best football during the past fortnight.
The often wayward Reid has kicked three goals in each of his last two games against quality opponents and in his most recent game again Melbourne gathered 16 disposals with five marks and laid ten tackles.
The most likely scenario is that Hickey, who has played just five games this season because of knee and toe problems, is likely to come back through the reserves, as he did after injury earlier in the season.
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