Sydney coach John Longmire insists the shock absence of the Western Bulldogs’ All-Australian ruckman Will Minson won’t force a re-think of his gameplan for Sunday’s AFL clash.
Minson has been dropped for the game at Etihad Stadium where a win for the Swans will all but shore up a top-two spot.
Tom Campbell will now take on the Bulldogs’ No.1 ruck role against Mike Pyke.
“It doesn’t really change things,” Longmire said of Minson’s absence.
“We’ve got Pykey ready to go this week.
“Tom Campbell actually kicked a few goals against us last year so we’ll be mindful of that.”
With both Josh Kennedy (hamstring) and Craig Bird (knee) out this week, midfielder Tom Mitchell, who’s had an injury-interrupted season, is likely to make a long-awaited comeback.
Mitchell has not played a senior game in over four months with his last outing against North Melbourne in round four.
“Obviously he’s an inside midfielder and we’ve lost a couple,” Longmire said.
“It could be an opportunity for Tom if he’s selected in the team. He’s had an interrupted season to date.
“We know that he’s an elite contested ball player and we’re playing a team that’s extremely good at the first possessions and clearances.”
Kennedy’s absence ends a run of 127 straight games – the longest current streak in the AFL.
But Longmire expected Kennedy and Bird to both return for the final home and away round against Richmond.
The Swans go into the Bulldogs clash boosted by an impressive away record, having only lost one game outside Sydney this season to reigning premiers Hawthorn.
But Longmire is anticipating a tough encounter.
“They’re a few very good clearance team, I think they’re number two in the competition around the ball as far as first possession. They’re a very good tackling team,” said.
“It’s an important game for us. There’s plenty to play for and we’ve got a couple of our key players out and we need to make sure we play well.”