SYDNEY superstar Buddy Franklin will make his long-awaited return to the field against Adelaide on Saturday.
Franklin hasn't played for the Swans since the final round of the 2019 season, when he kicked four goals in his 300th game after two months out with a hamstring strain.
A series of hamstring and groin injuries sidelined him again for all of last season.
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The four-time Coleman medallist has now recovered from calf soreness that he picked up in training in late January, which forced him to miss the Swans' impressive season-opening win over Brisbane.
A fit-looking Franklin played half of a reserves practice match against Greater Western Sydney on Sunday instead, moving freely and coming through unscathed as Longmire looked on.
"He pulled up fine, so we expect him to play this week," Swans coach John Longmire said on Monday.
John Longmire speaking to media:— Sydney Swans (@sydneyswans) March 22, 2021
“We expect Lance to play this week. He’s done a lot of work and he’s been training for quite a while so it will be good to get him back in the team.”#Bloods pic.twitter.com/xg7q2qtCyi
"He's done a lot of work and he's been training for quite a while, so it will be good to get him back in the team.
"He's a competitor, he loves to get out there and play. He's really been frustrated to not be able to get back, but he's directed that frustration into his rehab program.
"It's just great to have him back in and available to play."
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Longmire said the Swans would manage the 34-year-old through the season, "even if he does go well and feels good".
The Swans are also determined to continue following the long-term training and strength program that has been in place for Franklin since last August.
"He definitely won't play every week," said Longmire.
"He did a lot of work in the hub to get nice and strong, he trained right through the break, through Christmas. We need to make sure that continues, and that will be decided from week to week.
"We have to make sure we don't get into the habit of just playing him every week, where he recovers and doesn't train, doesn't do his strength work that he needs to do, and then plays again on the weekend."
Sydney's forward line functioned well without Franklin on the weekend, with the team kicking 19 goals for the match, and taking 23 marks inside 50 to Brisbane's five.
Out of the Sydney talls, Hayden Mclean is the player most likely to make way for Franklin, but Longmire wasn't giving anything away.
"What we do know is that Lance is not going to be playing every week, so we need a full squad," he said.
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Franklin needs to kick 56 more goals to reach 1000 career goals and become only the sixth VFL/AFL player to reach the milestone.
He has two years remaining on a lucrative nine-year contract with the Swans.