THE SYDNEY Swans are hopeful Lance Franklin will return to face St Kilda next round after the star forward completed a strong running session on Saturday.
Franklin has not played since round 18 because of a torn muscle in his back, as well as a rib cartilage injury, but after a solid week's running is in the frame to return.
Speaking after the Swans' 89-point thrashing of rival Greater Western Sydney on Saturday, coach John Longmire said Franklin would return to full training next week.
"Lance ran today and ran really strongly again, so he's had a week of running now and it's getting harder each session he's had to do and he's been pulling up well, so that’s a really positive sign," Longmire said.
While the back injury has been well documented, the damage to Franklin's rib cartilage was only revealed this week. However Longmire believes neither injury will trouble the goalkicking great for too long.
"I think he'll be able to recover fully," the coach said.
"That’s the aim of him missing the games is to be able to get over the injury so he can come back and play.
"It's always important to be able to train, and his ability to be able to train (over) the last week running-wise and next week football-wise, is important for him."
Bleeding which Franklin had experienced in his abdomen has settled, allowing the 28-year-old to increase his training load.
"That's why he's been able to run, that’s the thing that was restricting him to this point and now he's been able to run, it means that it's going away which is good and he's able to get some more movement," Longmire added.
The Swans entered the match with a long injury list, with Luke Parker (ankle), Tom Mitchell (eye), Ben McGlynn (hamstring) and Gary Rohan (knee) among the notable absentees.
And while the return of Parker remains a remote prospect following ankle surgery during the week, Longmire hopes to recall his other stars before a possible trip to Perth in the first week of the finals.
"We didn't have many players playing in our reserves today because we had so many injuries over the last couple of weeks but hopefully those blokes can start to filter back over the next week or two and give us some more depth."
The Swans face St Kilda at Etihad Stadium in round 22 before a final round match against Gold Coast at the SCG.
Saturday's morale boosting win over the Giants leaves the club firmly in the mix for a top four finish.