FRESH off a brilliant victory over back-to-back premiers Richmond, Sydney will add modern-day-great Lance Franklin, and possibly James Rowbottom, to its unbeaten side for the clash with Essendon at the SCG on Thursday night.
The Swans have stunned the competition by opening the season with three electrifying wins, including a 45-point demolition of the Tigers, and a 31-point upset over 2020 preliminary finalists Brisbane. Now the Swans have the luxury of selecting an even stronger line-up.
Franklin will return to the team after being 'managed' for the round three clash with Richmond, coach John Longmire confirmed on Monday.
"It'll be terrific to have Lance back in the team. He's obviously had some more training under his belt and he feels good for Thursday," Longmire said.
"He trained today [Monday], and he's been pulling up well. His program was that he trained last week really hard, he trained again Saturday, trained today, and then hopefully he pulls up well and will be ready to go."
The 34-year-old Franklin, who has kicked 947 goals in 301 games, will be returning to a forward line that is getting the most opportunities in the competition, with 60.7 inside 50s per game for a League-high 54 goals.
Hayden McLean again looks the most likely to drop out for Franklin. The 197cm forward-ruckman was the one to make way when Franklin returned after 581 days on the sidelines to face Adelaide in round two.
"We'll see how the week pans out mainly because we're not sure how everyone pulls up. We probably won't make a decision until Wednesday night," Longmire said.
"When you have a good win it's difficult to put players out of the team, but we're also fully open with our players that [Buddy] won't be playing every game.
"Every player in our team is required, when they come in, to play a good role for their team. If they continue to do that, they'll continue to get opportunities. It's pretty simple."
Tough midfielder Rowbottom is also likely to return after recovering from a knee injury he sustained in round one.
"He's a very good player. He plays with real power, and we really value that side of his game," Longmire said.
"If he's right to play, that would be fantastic."
An injury-hit Essendon found form in round three, with a 75-point upset win over St Kilda built on what Longmire described as "a great style of footy".
The Bombers and Swans will both have only five days to prepare for the Thursday night match at the SCG.