Outlook brightening for AFL's Swans

Rob Forsaith
Dan Hannebery is expected to be back from injury for Sydney in the AFL this weekend

A week is a long time in the AFL. An eight-day break must almost feel like an eternity for Sydney coach John Longmire.

Last week, everything pointed to the Swans missing the finals for the first time under Longmire: Lance Franklin was neither fit nor firing, a stack of injured stars were on the sidelines and they looked terrible in losses to Gold Coast and Essendon.

Sydney, now eighth on the ladder ahead of Sunday's crunch clash with Melbourne at the MCG, are far from certainties for September.

However, the red-and-white outlook is much rosier after they pipped Collingwood by two points.

Veterans Kieren Jack and Jarrad McVeigh both returned from injury at the SCG, where Franklin reaffirmed why he is one of the game's best with a six-goal haul.

The Swans now have another eight-day break and yet more reinforcements to call upon, with Dan Hannebery and Gary Rohan both expected to be available this weekend.

Vice-captain Hannebery has spent a month on the sidelines because of a calf strain, while speedster Rohan suffered a broken hand in the reserves a fortnight ago.

Hannebery, whose form was widely criticised by pundits prior to his second calf strain of the year, looms as an automatic selection provided he gets through training this week.

"We'd be pretty keen to get him back into the seniors as quickly as we can .. we know he's a quality player," Longmire told reporters on Monday.

"He trained well last week, we just were a bit shy of picking him because he hadn't had a couple of weeks of training,

"We're confident he'll train really well.

"Dan and Gary are both training well."

Jack and McVeigh both pulled up well from their comeback games, and Ben Ronke (migraine) will also be okay to face Melbourne.

Franklin monstered the Magpies, booting three goals in the first term then igniting a third-quarter fightback.

The four-time Coleman medallist, who could easily top the league's season goal-kicking list for a fifth time if he maintains current form, looked a different beast to that tamed by Michael Hurley and Rory Thompson during the previous fortnight.

Longmire wouldn't be drawn on why Franklin appeared to move more freely, but an eight-day break after the loss to Essendon could only have helped.

"I don't think there's any magic tricks. The reality is some weeks you feel better than others," Longmire said of Frankin, who has hardly trained this season because of a heel injury.

"What he's been able to do on game day has been huge.

"We make sure we rotate him, rest him, as much as we can."