Longmire: Franklin was on limited minutes

After the Swans' narrow Round 1 defeat to the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, one of the discussion topics centred on the match fitness of Sydney's superstar centre-half forward.

Considered an outside chance of playing Round 1 a little over a month ago, having missed the pre-season JLT Community Series and groin surgery in November, there was always a question mark over Franklin's selection ahead of the Bulldogs clash.

After racing the clock and proving his fitness, Franklin's restricted pre-season had more of an impact on his game than he would have liked.

Franklin had no influence on the contest for the first three quarters; he was kept goalless and registered just two disposals.

A five disposal burst in the last quarter - including a goal - gave the Swans hope of a miraculous comeback win, but a missed opportunity with five minutes left was his last meaningful impact on the match, finishing with 1.2 and 7 disposals - his lowest return of disposals since Round 19, 2018.

With the midfield comprehensively beaten in clearances (41-32), contested possessions (151-125) and inside 50s (68-47), the Swans forward line was starved of supply.

Debutant Nick Blakey kicked his first senior goal early in the third quarter, while recruit Ryan Clarke kicked his first goal for the Swans from a set shot in the third quarter.

Senior coach John Longmire admitted that they time managed Franklin, but hoped that he would play more game time in the coming weeks.

"Yeah he was (on managed minutes), we knew that coming in.

"We knew that he was going to be time limited and we decided to put him in the team.

"He certainly trained more than what he trained last year.

"Hopefully he can get going in regards to the training program and we're going into a six day break next week.

"If he's able to get through that, he should be able to improve his minutes playing wise."

Despite improved numbers in the last quarter, he spent considerable amount of time on the bench, spending 79 percent on the field - his lowest since Sydney's win against Fremantle in Round 9, 2018.

While Franklin has been able to gradually increase his training load over the last month, Longmire is hopeful that Franklin can recover in time for the Swans' Friday night Round 2 clash against Adelaide at the SCG.

"Over the last three weeks, he's been doing all the sessions.

"Once you get into game mode, that's the challenge, being able to recover and still train.

"Up until the last three and a half weeks, he's been doing all the sessions."

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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 http://theswansblog.com

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