SYDNEY is bracing for round one without Lance Franklin, as the superstar forward prepares for a significant training block after undergoing knee surgery last month.
Franklin had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in January, having felt discomfort across the Christmas period, with the club expecting the 33-year-old to resume running from next week.
However, with the club set to put Franklin through a strenuous fitness routine before he returns to the field, it is likely to take a cautious approach to his chances of featuring in its season-opening clash with Adelaide on March 21.
"We'll see how he goes, because he's coming along OK at the moment," Swans coach John Longmire told AFL.com.au.
"It's the same sort of operation he had a few years ago on the other knee, so he knows what it's about.
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"How it looks for round one, I'm unsure just yet. He needs a good training block under his belt, so we're mindful of that as well."
Franklin endured a series of frustrating setbacks during the 2019 season, managing just 10 senior matches after battling a groin issue prior to the campaign and a hamstring injury throughout the year.
However, having undergone a number of minor cleanouts late last year, the veteran had returned to the club over the summer in terrific condition and was a standout in the early stages of pre-season training.
It's left the Swans optimistic about the impact Franklin will have on the club's upcoming season when he does eventually return to the playing field.
"He had a couple of minor things done over the off-season, but then he got back in ripping shape," Longmire said.
"He was as good as I've seen him. Physically, he was just flying on the training track.
"We were holding him back, mindful obviously of him doing all of the loads even though he was feeling good. But in the competitive work we were doing before Christmas, he was playing on guys like Dane Rampe and just absolutely flying."
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Sydney is confident its other members of the rehab group will be fit for round one, with Isaac Heeney making strong progress from a broken thumb sustained in January.
Heeney has been taking part in all running drills, with the club confident he will resume competitive work at training within the next fortnight.
The Swans open their Marsh Community Series campaign with a clash against crosstown rivals the Giants on February 29.