SYDNEY coach John Longmire has conceded star ruckman Tom Hickey may not come back into the team for this week's clash with Port Adelaide as the Swans try to end a five-game losing streak against the Power.
Longmire admits he's still working through the best ruck mix for his side moving forward and while he guaranteed high-profile recruit Peter Ladhams will play against his former team on Saturday afternoon, the man he was brought in to link up with in Hickey, is no guarantee.
The pair have only played two games together this season, in rounds nine and 10, with Hickey, who finished sixth in the Swans best and fairest last season, battling injuries, the latest of which was a toe ailment.
"We're just conscious with Tom in particular that he gets some training under his belt. That's priority number one," Longmire said.
"The selection thing takes care of itself once he gets training under his belt. We'll see how he is on Thursday, how he's pulled up, how his toe pulls up is really important. And then we'll make a decision on whether he needs another week, does he need a week in the reserves or seniors."
Veteran forward Sam Reid has filled the back-up ruck role for the past two weeks and excelled in the stirring wins over both Richmond and Melbourne with three goals in each contest.
His form could well be a factor on when Hickey returns to the Swans fold, especially with another tall in Logan McDonald looking sharp in recent weeks and Lance Franklin to return from suspension.
"It all goes into the mix, it's not just about the two rucks, it's about the whole mix and what the team looks like. The balance of the team is really important," Longmire added.
"Sam played very well last time. As much as he's important forward of the ball and hitting the scoreboard as well as in the ruck, he had 10 tackles, which we're thrilled with. Logan was dangerous in our forward half so we'll weigh all that up and make the right call, in terms of what the team needs."
While that conundrum will be debated among the Swans match committee over the coming days, Ladhams' spot to take on the team that he represented 32 times before switching to the harbour city is assured.
"He'll obviously know a bit about Port but ultimately when the ball is bounced you've just got a job to do and you've just got to go out there and do it," Longmire said.
"Peter's been very important for us, he's come into the team and has improved every week. He's had a good solid season so far as Tom was very good for us last year, he's just been injury interrupted this year."
Defenders Harry Cunningham (abdominal) and Colin O'Riordan (concussion) are both back in the selection mix as the Swans try to continue their pre-bye momentum and take on a Port side that they haven't beaten since round 20, 2016.
"Since round six they're the number one defence in the competition. They're 5-2 since then so after a slower start to the year they've been playing some fantastic footy and so that sharpens up your mentality very quickly," Longmire said.
"They've got many strengths. Their defensive actions at the moment are outstanding and they've got a midfield and attacking setup that can really hit the scoreboard.
"Their best footy is as good as anyone's going around and has been for a number of years and still is at the moment if you look at the current stats."