Swans back Hickey for AFL ruck challenge

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Sydney are backing Tom Hickey's experience to overcome his lack of match fitness when facing arguably the biggest ruck challenge in the AFL.

Hickey will play his first AFL match since May 20 on Saturday night when the Swans host St Kilda and their renowned ruck duo Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall.

The 31-year-old Hickey returned to action last weekend in state league ranks after being sidelined by a toe injury.

And the journeyman has played just five AFL games this season after missing rounds four to eight because of a knee problem.

"He has been around for a long time, he's experienced," Sydney forward Will Hayward told reporters on Thursday.

"He has got complete trust from everyone that he can come in and play a role.

"He had an amazing year for us last year and no doubt ... he will do it again this week, no concerns there."

The importance of Hickey's task against the Ryder-Marshall combination is magnified by the suspension of Swans ruck Peter Ladhams.

Ladhams was banned for one match for striking former Port Adelaide teammate Ollie Wines in Sydney's 23-point loss to the Power last Saturday.

Ladhams misses the crunch fixture against the Saints, with the loser likely to be tipped out of the top eight.

The Swans currently hold seventh and St Kilda are eighth - both teams have won eight games and are separated on the ladder by just 1.8 per cent.

And both clubs are seeking to rebound from a loss, with the Saints upset by Essendon last start.

"It's a massive game, there's no hiding behind that," Hayward said.

"They (St Kilda) are a great side, they have played great footy this year.

"Obviously a disappointing week last week, so we know they will be hungry and ready to bounce back just like we are ... two hungry teams going at it."

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