How Swans will manage Franklin in run to finals

Lance Franklin is on course to play through the remainder of the home and away season as he closes in on the magical 1000-goal landmark, despite Sydney not ruling out a freshen up for the superstar forward.

It comes as cross-town rivals Greater Western Sydney have been smashed with injuries, forced to make seven changes for their vital clash against Geelong on Friday night.

The bye after round 23 is shaping as the ace up the sleeve of the Swans’ conditioning team as they aim to have Franklin fit and firing for the club’s return to the finals.

Franklin has been named in the Swans’ side to face St Kilda on Saturday night and, given it would be unlikely they play bottom-placed North Melbourne in the prized Friday night slot next round, he would have a minimum seven-day break.

Even if the Swans were to have a six-day rest heading into round 23 against Gold Coast the bye before the finals reduces the need for time off.

The Swans pledged at the start of the year to follow a conservative management plan with their prized goalkicker but it has not prevented Franklin from lining up in 15 of a possible 19 games, after just 10 in 2019-20.

The Swans have taken a conservative approach with Lance Franklin this year.Credit:Getty

This week would be his 13th game in a row – a feat he has not achieved since his last All Australian season in 2018.

Though he has been plagued by soft-tissue problems in recent years, Franklin’s only injury since his return in round two came from a collision.

The uncertainty of the fixture has added complexity to the Swans’ planning but the draw has been kind with only three breaks of six days or shorter.

The Swans do not want to fall into a cycle where Franklin is too sore after games to complete the strength program he needs to prevent injury before playing. So far, they have been able to avoid that problem.

“We said at the start of the year his ability to train is so important – whether that’s in the gym or during the week,” Swans coach John Longmire said on Thursday. “To get some training under the belt is critical for him to put games together. So far he’s been able to do that. That’s an important part. If that was to be interrupted in any way, shape or form, he’ll be not playing, we’d give him a week off to get back into a training routine.

“As important as it is for us to have him out on the ground we’re not going to push him to the point we think we need to risk him that way. So far he’s been going pretty well.”

A rest would increase the difficulty in Franklin reaching 1000 goals this year. He needs just 15 more to become the sixth man into the exclusive club. Based on his career average of 3.13 goals a game, he would need the Swans to reach the second week of the finals to get there.

Forced out of Sydney due to the city’s COVID-19 outbreak, the Swans have rallied in adversity to win their past five games.

Despite Swans and Giants players and staff being reunited with families and loved ones on Thursday night, the challenges will continue with Victoria to head into another lockdown.

Needing to beat the Cats to stay in the hunt for the finals, the depleted Giants will be without Phil Davis (concussion), Jacob Hopper (concussion), Tom Green (hamstring), Daniel Lloyd (ankle), Sam Reid (ankle) due to injury, while ruckman Shane Mumford and forward Jesse Hogan are being managed.

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