Star Swan Heeney desperate to rebound from form slump
Sydney forward Isaac Heeney is confident he can regain his status as one of the AFL's elite players as he braces for a crunch clash with Carlton at the SCG.
Heeney booted 49 goals last season and ranked second in the AFL for tackles inside 50m on the way to winning his maiden All-Australian jersey.
But the 27-year-old has struggled to replicate that form this year amidst Sydney's injury crisis, booting just 10 goals across the first 10 rounds.
With Sydney sitting 12th with a 4-6 record, Heeney is determined to regain his hot form to help the Swans make the finals.
"I had a big impact last year. This year I've been struggling with form a little bit at times," Heeney told reporters on Thursday.
"The last few weeks I felt like I got back into a bit more influence in the game, which is nice."
When asked about the criticism that has come his way this year, Heeney replied: "Lucky I'm living in Sydney. You can push it to the side.
"But Horse (coach John Longmire) gives me confidence. He's been amazing. It's just a matter of not overthinking it and not listening to the outside noise."
Heeney embraces the high external expectations of him and is determined to live up to them.
"At times you have these lapses in form and I hold myself to a high standard, and I want the external to hold me there too," he said.
"I've got the confidence I'll bounce back and be able to become one of those elite players of the comp again."
Sydney are bracing for a tough battle against the Blues on Friday night, especially against Carlton key forwards Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay.
The task of quelling the star duo has been made even tougher by the fact Sydney are still missing brothers Tom and Paddy McCartin as well as Dane Rampe down back.
The Swans have recalled Lewis Melican to help fill the defensive void.
Ruckman Tom Hickey will replace Peter Ladhams (ankle), while Sam Wicks has also been recalled.
"They (Curnow and McKay) are massive," Heeney said.
"If they get a roll on, they can kick 10, 12 goals between them.
"We need to make sure we can nullify their impact on the scoreboard."
Carlton recalled Brodie Kemp and Tom De Koning, with Lewis Young, Ed Curnow and Jack Silvagni missing out.
The Blues have lost five of their past six matches to crash to 11th on the ladder, just half a win above Sydney.
Carlton president Luke Sayers moved to ease the pressure on coach Michael Voss earlier this week by stating the former Lions star will stay on even if the Blues miss the finals.