Lance Franklin, Callum Mills and Jake Lloyd are back for the Sydney Swans but out-of-contract forward Sam Reid is on the outer after being dropped on the eve of the club’s AFL finals assault.
As expected, Franklin, Mills and Lloyd have been recalled for Saturday’s clash against the Gold Coast Suns, their last assignment of the home-and-away season and an effective dead rubber with the club having already stitched up a “home” elimination final.
Injured pair Nick Blakey (broken leg) and Josh Kennedy (hamstring) have made way as anticipated, but coach John Longmire has also cast aside Reid and Robbie Fox in what could be a pointer to the Swans’ longer-term plans.
Reid, who turns 30 in December, is out of contract at the end of the season and has struggled through another injury-wrecked campaign, with calf problems limiting him to just 10 games, further compounding existing concerns about his durability.
He has played the past four games in a row but kicked just one goal during that time and had a quiet 11-possession outing in Sydney’s win over North Melbourne last weekend.
Longmire said earlier in the week he did not need to rest any more players ahead of the finals – having spared Franklin from duty last week in anticipation of the AFL scrapping the pre-finals bye – so Reid’s omission can only be read as based on form.
Speculation is mounting about a salary cap squeeze at the Swans, with Reid an obvious candidate to clear space after the emergence of promising key position youngsters Hayden McLean and Joel Amartey, who have filled his usual ruck-forward role with aplomb in his absence, while prized draftee Logan McDonald is viewed as Franklin’s heir apparent.
McLean, who is also out of contract, is reportedly being targeted by St Kilda, while other reports have touted midfielder Dylan Stephens as another possible departure.
The Swans are likely to face Greater Western Sydney in the first round of the finals, assuming the Giants are able to take care of business on Saturday night against Carlton.