SYDNEY faces an injury and form fuelled forward-line crisis as it prepares to face Gold Coast this week with doubts over Tom Papley’s fitness adding to the forced omissions of star duo Lance Franklin and Isaac Heeney.
Papley ran out with the team at training on Thursday, but stayed away from the group for the duration of the session, observing most of the run from a massage table.
A drop in form from first-year tall Logan McDonald further compounds the Swans' sudden drop in forward firepower.
McDonald kicked seven goals in the opening three games of the season, but is fighting for selection this week after a couple of goalless games.
The No.4 pick in the 2020 NAB AFL Draft also failed to take a mark and only picked up two kicks in both of the close contests against Essendon and Greater Western Sydney.
Fellow tall forward Sam Reid isn’t concerned about his younger teammate’s form, and has backed the 197cm McDonald to quickly bounce back.
"He's an 18 or 19-year-old kid playing key position, and he's had a really strong start to the year. He kicked some goals early, and as he gets more attention it'll become more difficult,” Reid said.
"He's still playing his role, he's still creating a contest, doing all the things that a key forward does. He's super competitive, hates losing.
"It's an exciting start for him, and hopefully it continues like that.”
Reid said he expected to spend plenty of time opposed to Suns defender Sam Collins on Saturday, while McDonald looked likely to have an intriguing match-up with Charlie Ballard if the young forward is selected.
Ballard is set to return this week after missing one game with an ankle injury and, like McDonald, the fourth-year Suns tall is strong overhead despite a relatively slender frame.
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"Logan is going to have to play to his strengths, he's going to have to use his run," Reid said.
"We'll look at their defenders individually and how he can get a hold of them. [Logan] will be pretty clear on the weekend of what he needs to do."
Hayden McLean should replace Franklin after playing in rounds one and three when the Swans superstar was still recovering from a calf strain.
The 197cm forward-ruckman kicked three goals in the Swans' VFL victory over the Giants last weekend.
Midfielder James Rowbottom trained strongly on Thursday, after gathering 23 touches and seven tackles in the reserves, and will return to face the Suns.