Sydney’s key position shortage could force the Swans into a new-look forward line against the Cats on Saturday afternoon at GMHBA Stadium.
The Swans were already without Sam Naismith, Kurt Tippett and Sam Reid, but will now travel to Geelong without their superstar forward, Lance Franklin, already ruled out this week with a bruised heel.
The Swans still have several youthful backup options, but with Aliir the most experienced of the quartet, and the remaining three yet to debut (Cameron, Amartey and McCartin), the Swans may opt to go small and fast.
Callum Sinclair has played out of the goal square before, kicking a career-high five goals against St Kilda last season. This season, he’s been forced to cover the ruck, due to the long-term absence of Sam Naismith.
Darcy Cameron could come in to share the load and allow Sinclair to spend more time inside fifty, while Tom McCartin is a competitive and developing talent, he is just 18-years old, and Amartey is nowhere near ready, both needing more time in the NEAFL to develop before playing for the senior team.
Ben Ronke and James Rose are other options for the Swans, with Ronke one of the Swans stars in their opening NEAFL matches this season.
Aliir Aliir is another tall option, who played forward against the Bulldogs in round four, but found it tough going, and is more suited to defence, while Lewis Melican could prove his fitness and return to the side this week.
A fast forward line, with the likes of Isaac Heeney, Gary Rohan, Will Hayward, Oliver Florent, Kieren Jack and Tom Papley could worry the Geelong backline, with Parker and Heeney capable of taking contested and overhead marks and playing as permanent forwards.
Speaking ahead of today’s training session, vice-captain Luke Parker said it depends on what the coaches want to go with.
“It depends if they want to go with a different look, and be a bit more unpredictable, which could be the case,” Parker said.
“For us we have a forward line we know is pretty quick and put a lot of pressure on the opposition.
“The main thing is if we can get it in there and get it deep, we can lock it in there.
“A lot of (our) scores have come from repeat entries, and turn overs, and our pressure will be at the front of our mind.
“For us a lot of blokes are putting up their hands, Nic Newman and Dan Robinson, Ben Ronke has been playing really well as well, so for us I think there's a few boys that can slot into that and play their role.”
The Swans midfield was criticised for their first-half performance against the decimated Crows on Friday night, with the Crows enjoying little-to-no pressure in the middle, winning the ball freely.
While the Swans midfield group were well down, Parker does not believe that major changes are needed, just a focus on basics and beating your man.
“I think for us, it's about getting back to basics,” Parker said.
“Myself, I was down on form and Joey (sic) will say himself that he was down on form as well.
“We can't have too many players having an off game in one game, so for us it’s about getting back to basics.
“I think we had a pretty low percentage of tackles made and lost the contested ball and ground ball.
“When you get those things wrong, or lose those battles, it goes a long way towards losing the game.
“That's what we need to improve and I don't think it's a crisis thing, it's a pretty easy thing to change.”
Despite the raging external criticism of their performances on Friday night, Parker says the team doesn’t need to heed any of it, rather stick with judging themselves within the football club.
“For us, we judge ourselves within the four walls of the club and we know where we want to be, and the standard we want to set,” Parker said.
“At times we've been off I guess, in certain games and if we're honest with ourselves, we haven't put together a full four quarter effort.
“But in saying that, we've had some really good wins against quality midfields and quality sides, and that's what you need to do.”
While the Swans were certainly flat in the first-half against the Crows, an immediate lift was evident in the third quarter, with the Swans battling well and controlling most of the second half.
A 4-goal burst either side of three quarter time won the game for the Crows, as the Swans closed within two points with immense forward half pressure.
While feedback after the game is important, Parker said that it’s crucial to have feedback immediately during the game, so that they can change things then and there, rather than waiting until Monday.
“I think during the game we get messages sent down and we're able to watch vision at quarter and half-time,” Parker said.
“We prefer to obviously change things during the game, rather than come in on Monday morning and realise what's going wrong, and at times we've been able to do that.
“Even on the weekend, we had a poor performance, but the second half we did turn it around, and match it with them in the midfield and it got us back in the game.”
Asked what the major change was, Parker said it was just focus on the basics of football.
“For us it was basics, it was getting pushed off the ball, fumbles, and losing one-on-ones, a thing that we really pride ourselves on,” Parker said.
“For us, it’s not a massive change, just a mindset that we need to change.”
The reigning club champion said that if the Swans serve up the same first half performance against the Cats as they did against the Crows, boasting a midfield with the likes of Joel Selwood, Brownlow medalist Patrick Dangerfield and others, the result won’t be pretty.
“If you come up with that mindset that we did on the weekend, you'll get smacked,” Parker said.
“We know it's about getting back to basics and we've done it for a number of years.
“We have full faith in our system, and our leaders and players, that we'll be able to turn it around.”
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