ONLY one of the combatants will be playing finals but the 24th Sydney Derby is set to be lit up by a host of returning stars from both sides of the city bridge.

Sydney coach John Longmire stopped short of declaring three-time best and fairest winner Josh Kennedy a certain starter but was again adamant that he can find a spot for the 34-year-old, despite a form run that has his side firming for a top-four spot.

Greater Western Sydney, meanwhile, will welcome back dual best and fairest winner Josh Kelly from concussion protocols and forward Jesse Hogan, who was rested, into a team that pushed Carlton for a half last week.

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

All-Australian Lachie Whitfield (hip) will need to prove his fitness at main training on Thursday but is closing in on a return, while utility Harry Perryman is also in the frame for his first game since suffering a rib injury in the round 13 win over North Melbourne.

"That's a pretty significant injury he got over so we need to make sure he's 100 per cent, Giants coach Mark McVeigh said on Wednesday. "He's trained really hard for a week-and-a-half now and had a good hitout on the weekend. If he feels comfortable, we'll definitely be playing him."

00:28 Mins
Published on

Big blow as Perryman subbed off after this clash

GWS has suffered a worrying injury concern with Harry Perryman appearing to hurt his ribs in this incident

Published on

Young gun Tom Green will be an interesting watch for GWS after McVeigh admitted form was a big factor in him being managed out of the team that lost to the Blues.

Kennedy remains in the frame for a call-up after racking up 37 disposals in the VFL last weekend following two months out with a hamstring injury.

01:32 Mins
Published on

VFL Showreel, R18: Josh Kennedy highlights

Enjoy Josh Kennedy's standout VFL performance for the Swans

Published on

But whether the Swans have a spot in their stable line-up for the 289-game club champion as they build for another finals campaign is a fascinating conundrum for Longmire.

"Whether he comes in this week, we're not sure. We'll go through that tomorrow. He's feeling good with his body, he's in good form and that's a good spot to be," he said.

IN THE MIX Who's pushing for selection, who's under the pump?

Kennedy was used at half-back at the start of the season but looked far more effective when moved back onball. The Swans are clearly settled in the midfield though, which raises questions as to how Kennedy is best deployed when he inevitably returns.

"We're still confident he's got a role. He gives us flexibility to do that. We're confident in the back half of the year that he can be really helpful for us," Longmire added.

If the Swans can nail down a spot for the three-time All-Australian it will only enhance the buzz around a side that is starting to find its best form consistently at the business end of the season and is back in the premiership conversation.

Despite inconsistencies early in the campaign, the Swans have produced their best on the big stage this year with stirring away wins against both Melbourne and Fremantle as well as a round two triumph over flag favourites Geelong in the famous Buddy 1000 game.

Co-captain Callum Mills is salivating over another huge affair that is Saturday's derby as they continue to push for a double chance.

"There's nothing better than a rocking SCG against the crosstown rivals and we're really looking forward to that, it's exciting," he said.

Callum Mills chases down Callan Ward during the R1 clash between Sydney and GWS at Accor Stadium on March 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The stakes might not be as high as for the Giants, who will miss out on September action for only the second time in seven seasons, but the clash will give them the chance to replicate a finals-type feeling in the back end of a disappointing season.

"I think so. We need to see the season out in the right way," McVeigh said.

"Our players need to make sure they finish well because you're presenting the footy club, you're representing the supporters. We're very fortunate to be playing in such a big game at such a great venue against such a great team and that should spur you on.

Co-captain Stephen Coniglio added: "It's a bit different to a final but it is exciting. We have a lot of guys coming back in and it's always a privilege to take on a team we really do love playing."