SYDNEY has rubbished suggestions it should put Lance Franklin in cotton wool for the rest of the season after the superstar re-injured his hamstring against Hawthorn on Friday night.
Franklin is expected to miss at least four games with his latest setback, a strain in the same left hamstring that kept him sidelined for a month earlier in the season.
The four-time Coleman medallist, who is stranded on 299 games, missed most of the pre-season after undergoing groin surgery late last year.
The injury is a cruel blow for Franklin, who kicked four goals in just over three quarters against the Hawks, after he'd found his best form with five against West Coast before the Swans' mid-season bye.
Despite his frustrating year, Sydney coach John Longmire laughed off any talk about the club ending Franklin's year early to get him ready for 2020.
"We understand all the theories (are out there) but the ones that really matter come from working with our medical team," he said on Monday.
"They're the ones that understand Lance best.
"Over the last couple of years, he hasn't had massive pre-seasons, but he's been able to come in and contribute.
"We'll treat him as we treat most players, and understanding that he's 32 years of age, we'll be sure to get a good block of training into him before he plays.
"He's a competitor and he's disappointed, he likes to play all the time and he pushed himself through a lot of injuries.
"We've got to make sure we make the right decision with him and train him to make sure his body is fully conditioned to go."
Youngster Tom McCartin travelled with the Swans' NEAFL team but didn't play in the win over Canberra on Saturday in preparation to replace Franklin against Gold Coast at the SCG on Saturday.
Longmire backed McCartin, Sam Reid and Nick Blakey as tall options inside 50, and said he has faith that they can combine with Tom Papley, Will Hayward and Daniel Menzel to at ground level to kick some winning scores until Franklin returns.
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"We've been without Lance a few times over the last couple of years, so we've been trying to spread the load, and we've got some good young forwards coming through the system that can help with that," he said.
"We think we've got a good crew in that forward half that can be dangerous and we're confident they can deliver."
With Franklin on the bench, Blakey kicked two vital goals in the final term against Hawthorn to help the Swans hold onto a crucial 19-point win.
The first-year forward – the son of Sydney's head of development and dual premiership Kangaroo John - sparked his side with a huge pack mark and wasn't afraid to celebrate with the crowd after both of his majors.
"His Dad was more of a blue singlet-type across half back and used to kick it to Wayne Carey no matter what happened, so Nick has got a bit more of his Mum's flair in him," Longmire said with a laugh.
"He's always been like that and we encourage our young boys to really enjoy the moment and enjoy playing with each other, and the older boys really feed off that.
"He was a bit quiet in the first half (against the Hawks) but he when the game was up for grabs he really stood up, and that’s the sign of a high-quality person and a player."