For the second year in a row, Sydney superstar Lance Franklin is in doubt for the start of the AFL season after undergoing surgery.
Franklin, having been sent for scans after reporting back to the club with a sore knee last week, underwent an arthroscopy on Monday.
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The Swans expect Franklin, who turns 33 later this month and has three seasons left on his nine-year deal, will resume full training in roughly 10 weeks.
Sydney start their season against Adelaide on March 21, suggesting the four-time Coleman medallist will be an unlikely starter come round one.
The club will be keen to do everything possible to avoid a repeat of 2019, when Franklin rushed back for the start of the season after groin surgery.
But he managed only 10 games because of hamstring injuries.
The Swans hope the gun forward's latest operation, which comes after one of his healthiest starts to a pre-season since leaving Hawthorn in 2013 to join the Swans, will help him stay on the park for far more matches in 2020.
"He remains a chance to play in round one but we clearly can't make that call until closer to the date," football manager Charlie Gardiner said.
"We weighed it up and felt that it was best for Lance to have a clean-up now.
Lance Franklin told me in December he wished he hadn’t rushed back for R1 last year... latest setback will test him again. Competitiveness vs long game battle— Adam Curley (@AdamCurleyMedia) January 8, 2020
"We may have been able to manage the knee through the year, but we're hopeful that this will mean Lance can have an uninterrupted season.
"He has had a similar clean-up on his right knee in the past, so there are no long-term concerns."
Question marks over Franklin’s mega-contract
Franklin's struggles last year came as John Longmire's team entered a rebuilding phase, missing finals for the first time since 2009.
It prompted fresh questions regarding whether the veteran would play out the rest of his monster deal worth approximately $10 million.
"It was the most frustrating year I've had but that's football sometimes, it happens," he told AFL.com.au last month.
"I'm as hungry as ever and I've got no doubt that if my pre-season continues like this that I'll have a strong year.
"Some people might think otherwise but I still feel young and fresh."
The oldest member of Sydney's squad returned to training for 2020 alongside the club's youngest players in November, well ahead of schedule.
Franklin has formally joined the Swans' leadership group after informally mentoring the club's young forwards in recent seasons.
Gardiner suggested Franklin's fitness base from the past two months would assist in his recovery.