New season, same old forward line woes

The dawn of a new Football season rapidly approaches, with a smattering of Swans taking part in the AFL's pre-season warm-up competition, the AFLX.

Given a new format for the year, harking back to primary school when captains selected their team, Lance Franklin was tapped on the shoulder as one of the first captains. A season-long battle with injury, followed by post-season injuries put an end to his involvement in the revamped experiment.

Daniel Menzel was the big name recruit in the off-season, joining fellow ex-Cat Jackson Thurlow, ex-Roo Ryan Clarke. Despite his injury history, there was reason for optimism, averaging 2-goals per game since his long-awaited return to AFL.

However, for Franklin and Menzel, their pre-seasons have been anything but positive. Franklin went under the knife in November last year, to speed up his recovery from the groin injury suffered in Round 22, while Menzel underwent a similar procedure just two weeks later.

With high-hopes slated for the on-paper formidable pair, their setback from injury was a sudden cause for concern.

With Menzel and Franklin joining the likes of Sam Reid, Callum Sinclair, Will Hayward and Ben Ronke, it would have been the best forward line the Swans had hoped to field in years, but will now wait to see how the forwards progress in their limited pre-seasons.

Sam Reid is on-track to start the season as the linch pin of attack, but given his injury track record, it's a dependency the Swans can ill afford, with 19-year-old Tom McCartin and 18-year-old Nick Blakey waiting in the wings.

The upside to the current predicament is fit-again ruckman Sam Naismith. His return to the side will free Callum Sinclair to play both ruck and forward, providing flexibility and unpredictability to the way the Swans play.

The Swans will wait to see how injuries play their part in the pre-season. Regularly injured forward Gary Rohan was traded to the Cats in the off-season, Sam Reid is as fit as he's been in years, while Nick Blakey is shaping up for a Round 1 debut.

It's now down to Franklin and Menzel to prove their fitness before the Swans' season-opener against the Western Bulldogs.

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Justin Mitchell

Justin is a passionate AFL and Sydney Swans supporter, and football blogger since 2016. All articles are of his own opinion. You can reach him by twitter and Facebook at @theswansblog

Melbourne, Australia

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