SYDNEY modern-day-great Lance Franklin will miss the much-anticipated clash with rival superstar Dustin Martin at the MCG on Saturday afternoon.

Franklin returned from a 19-month layoff in round two, but the Swans have ruled out the 34-year-old from the clash against Richmond.

Franklin did not travel to Melbourne on Thursday with the Sydney team.

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Enjoy the best of Bud in long-awaited return

Lance Franklin is back to footy at last, bagging three goals in a pleasing comeback

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It's a blow for the Swans after the superstar slotted seamlessly back into a forward line that had changed dramatically since he last played in round 23, 2019, with the additions of 2020 draftees Logan McDonald and Errol Gulden.

The forward line leads the competition for goals scored, with 37 in two games, average marks inside 50 with 19, and goals per entry with 30.8 per cent, but the group will face its toughest test yet against the reigning premiers, in what looms as an enthralling contest.

While much of the early focus on Sydney has been on the stunning performances of McDonald, Gulden, and round two NAB AFL Rising Star nomination Braeden Campbell, defender Jake Lloyd has been just as impressed with 21yo swingman Tom McCartin's start to the season in defence.

Lance Franklin and Logan McDonald celebrate a goal against Adelaide in round two, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

McCartin impressed down back late last season, spending time on Charlie Dixon and Tom Hawkins, and now looks very comfortable in the role after training with the defensive group through the pre-season. He even picked up five coaches' votes in the round two clash with Adelaide for his 18 touches and six marks.

"He's really relished the opportunity down back," Lloyd said.

"I think Tom's ability to intercept mark, to read the play, he's a strong one-on-one player. It adds a lot for us as a defensive group.

"Especially that intercept marking, and the way we can run the footy off that."