THE FORM team of the competition will be bolstered even further on Thursday night, with Sydney to regain superstar forward Lance Franklin for its primetime clash against a rebounding Essendon.

Franklin, who kicked three goals in round two, was rested for last week's victory over reigning premiers Richmond but will return at the SCG this weekend in place of fellow big man Hayden McLean.

It's a timely return for Franklin, who has kicked more majors against Essendon than any other side during his scintillating 947-goal career – including hauls of nine against the Bombers in 2007 and 2008 and eight in 2013.

However, the Swans will still be without impressive young midfielder James Rowbottom, who is once again sidelined following a knee injury he sustained in the side's round one victory over Brisbane.

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The Bombers will also be strengthened following the side's first win of the season last week against St Kilda, with skipper Dyson Heppell to return from a back injury to replace the hobbled Mason Redman.

Redman injured his hamstring during the resounding victory over the Saints last Saturday and was replaced by medical substitute Tom Cutler, who hasn't been retained in the 26-man squad for the Thursday night clash.

Experienced midfielder David Zaharakis has been named among four emergencies, which also includes Ned Cahill, Nick Bryan and Zach Reid, following two weeks playing VFL practice matches following off-season knee surgery.

Sydney has named last week's unused medical substitute, James Bell, among four emergencies that also includes Callum Sinclair, Will Hayward and Lewis Melican.

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Thursday, April 8

Sydney v Essendon at the SCG, 7.20pm AEST

In: L.Franklin
Out: H.McLean (omitted), J.Bell (omitted)

Last week's sub: J.Bell (unused)

Out: M.Redman (hamstring), T.Cutler (omitted)

Last week's sub: T.Cutler (replaced M.Redman)