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Franklin still uncertain for Swans’ round one clash with Bulldogs

Franklin, who was awarded life membership of the AFL on Thursday, carried an injury into last year’s elimination final and had zero impact as the Swans were thumped by Greater Western Sydney.

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The difference here is Franklin is not hurt with the question being whether he clocked enough miles in his legs purely from training to be ready.

“He’s confident in himself. Me saying he’ll play will put a bit of pressure on him,” Parker said.

“He’s eyed round one, had a big training load the last two weeks. He’s an incredible player. A lot of experience, knows his body, if he says he will be right you have to trust him.”

Sydney won two of the four games that Franklin missed last year, beating finalists Hawthorn and Geelong and losing narrowly to the Hawks and North Melbourne.

When he did play there was a heavy reliance on him to lead an inexperienced forward line. The Swans ranked 12th for points scored last year and were the lowest scoring of the eight finalists.

The Swans acknowledged at the end of last year they needed to overhaul their forward set up.

The return of premiership-winning forward Sam Reid, 27, who was limited to one game last year, will give the Swans another experienced marking target inside 50.

Ruckman Callum Sinclair is also set for more time forward, especially against the Bulldogs if Franklin does not play, while prized recruit Nick Blakey is set to cut his teeth in attack in his debut season.

“At the end of the season we sat down on the improvement areas and worked through them in the summer,” Parker said.

“That was a key area we needed to look at. Having a young forward line with Lance the only big target you do get drawn to him.”

The Bulldogs defence was dealt a huge blow on Friday when veteran backman Dale Morris ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament.

The Swans showed their ruck hand in the preseason with Aliir Aliir filling in despite being one of the league’s leading intercept marks in defence in the second half of last year.

Reigning best and fairest winner Jake Lloyd will return to the side after missing the final practice match while Ollie Florent and Kieren Jack will also be available.

Experienced recruits Jackson Thurlow and Ryan Clarke, and Blakey are in line to make their debuts in the red and the white.

Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald

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