THREE-time best and fairest winner Josh Kennedy may be a surprise inclusion for Sydney this week for its crunch clash with the Western Bulldogs at the SCG on Friday night.
The 34-year-old has been out of action since damaging his hamstring against Carlton in round 10, and while it's likely he'll have to bide his time for another week, Sydney coach John Longmire has revealed a return for Kennedy isn't out of the question.
The three-time All-Australian has been training for the past fortnight and will be assessed in the lead-up to the blockbuster encounter that will see the eighth-placed Swans take on the 10th-placed Bulldogs.
"It's been seven weeks, the original estimation was eight weeks, so we'll see how he is this week," Longmire said.
"There's a couple of important steps he's still got to make in the ramp up. This week is an important week for him so we'll see how he goes.
"The coaches and the medical staff will look and see if he's done enough to play or if he needs another week."
Star forward Isaac Heeney struggled through the loss to Essendon on Saturday with a corked quad, but has pulled up well and will be fine for Friday's match - one that will have a huge bearing on the top eight.
"He looked after it really well afterwards and he's feeling great today so he should be fine this week," Longmire said.
While Heeney has recovered physically, the Swans are still struggling emotionally from their second-half fade-out against the lowly Bombers that has put their finals hopes in a precarious position.
"I'm the same as the players, we're still disappointed that we played some really good patches of football in the game and let it slip," Longmire said.
Maintaining the undoubted quality that the Swans possess for four quarters has been a constant issue throughout 2022 for Longmire.
In the first half of the season, they endured a litany of sluggish first quarters while in their last two away games, poor third terms against Port and now Essendon have cost them winnable games.
But the Swans coach is not about to blame the prevalence of youth in his squad for the lapses.
"We don't care if they're first-year players, second-year players, or fifteen-year players, it doesn't matter. We need to get to that stage where we have consistent performances," he said.
"Each of the instances have been for different reasons from a technical perspective. Overall, it's just that concentration for the full 120 minutes that you keep doing the same thing."
The defeat to Essendon has placed greater emphasis on the need for a victory against a Bulldogs team that will have enjoyed an extra two days' rest after their loss to Brisbane on Thursday.
"We understand where it sits from a ladder perspective, the players understand, the supporters understand. What we focus on are the things that we can control and that's what we need to put our energies into. Looking after the step-by-step and getting our preparation right," Longmire said.
"The Doggies have a couple of days up on us and we need to make sure we make the most of our preparation in a short week.”
Along with the outside chance of a return for Kennedy, Longmire admitted experienced defender Harry Cunningham is back in the selection mix for Friday night along with ruckman Peter Ladhams, Joel Amartey, Hayden McLean and James Bell, who all impressed in the VFL.
Longmire is also confident of a strong showing from midfielder Callum Mills who had only 13 possessions against the Bombers in his quietest game of the season.
"To Essendon's credit they did that really well in the midfield but I don't think it was anything in particular, he just had a bit more of a quiet one. He just sets a really high standard and sometimes you don't live up to those expectations, which are his own expectations. I'm sure he'll be fine this week," Longmire said.