Buddy, Swans ready for long stint in hub

Injured Sydney superstars Lance Franklin and Josh Kennedy have departed alongside teammates, with the AFL club upbeat their gun forward will return this season.

LANCE FRANKLIN.
LANCE FRANKLIN. Picture: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Sydney superstar Lance Franklin has hopped on a plane and headed into a Queensland hub as he and AFL teammates prepare for the prospect of an eight-week stretch away from home.

The Swans, including injured guns Franklin and Josh Kennedy, boarded a bus on Thursday afternoon after leaving the SCG for what could be the last time this season.

Franklin and Kennedy's young families will remain in Sydney.

Co-captain Dane Rampe, who underwent surgery on Monday to repair a broken hand, also flew out and confidence is building at the club that he could be cleared to tackle St Kilda on Saturday.

The Swans play their next two games at the Gabba before heading to Western Australia, while their movements beyond a derby clash with GWS in Perth on August 13 are decidedly unclear because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We'd love to come back to Sydney, no doubt about it, but we need to be realistic and have a high level of pragmatism," Swans chief executive Tom Harley said.

"Preparing the players, the families; we're talking about an eight-week period.

"But if it ends up being three and a half weeks, we'll adjust to that.

"It's a relatively small travelling party compared to some of the other clubs. Which is more reflective of the age demographic of the team ... we've got a very young squad and only a handful of the players have families."

Franklin is one such player; he and wife Jesinta celebrated the birth of their first child Tallulah in February.

Knee surgery and a tweaked hamstring have prevented the four-time Coleman medallist from playing this season, but he is closing in on a return.

Swans coach John Longmire expressed confidence earlier this week that Franklin will get on the park at some point in 2020, while Harley was likewise upbeat.

"His training has progressed really well. He's running, he's doing light skills and knowing Lance he'll be knocking on the door pretty soon," Harley said.

"We obviously need to take a cautionary approach ... we'll make sure he clears all the appropriate hurdles.

"But certainly hopeful of seeing Lance in a couple of - I shouldn't put a timeline on it, I'll get in trouble - but before the season's out."


AAP