Swans veteran in doubt for season start - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Swans veteran in doubt for season start

By Adrian Warren 05/01/2009 04:06:50 PM Comments (0)

Sydney's all-time leading AFL games record holder Michael O'Loughlin is battling to be fit in time for the start of the new season.

The 32-year-old full forward, entering his 15th campaign for the Swans, was one of nine Sydney players to undergo off-season surgery.

While the majority of those operated on were scheduled to resume running either this week or next, O'Loughlin is still several weeks away from resuming full training.

O'Loughlin, who has chalked up 286 games for the club and is their second highest ever goalkicker with 497, is the only player on the roster who is currently in danger of missing the opening round fixture against St Kilda on March 28.

"Mick is probably the only one at this stage with a question mark, however we are still confident," Sydney coach coordinator John Longmire said.

"We've got a number of weeks before round one to go, so we're hopeful he will be up and running by then.

"There were probably a few players a bit delayed with their pre-season, but we expect most of them by the end of this week to be back in almost the full program.

"A lot of them have completed their rehab before Christmas and just maybe ticking the final boxes this week.

"Barry Hall, Adam Goodes, a number of players like that will be back and ready to go next week."

Both Longmire and co-captain Brett Kirk stressed no final decision would be made until at least later this month about the club's captaincy structure.

Sydney has utilised three co-captains in recent years, but one of last year's group, fullback Leo Barry, has stepped down prior to his final season.

Kirk believed the co-captaincy structure had worked well for Sydney.

"They are all different personalities and all have different strengths and weaknesses and we compliment each other," he said.

"Whether we go that way again, I'm not too sure what the thinking is."

While dual Brownlow medallist Adam Goodes, who turns 29 later this week, is widely tipped to fill the vacancy created by Barry, senior coach Paul Roos talked before Christmas about generating a newer and younger batch of leaders.

Longmire said other senior players like Tadhg Kennelly and Ryan O'Keffe both 27 had emerged in recent seasons, while an even younger group including Jarrad McVeigh 23 and Jarred Moore 22 were also coming through.

Kirk said he was really impressed with the attitude and work ethic of prize recruit and former Collingwood stalwart Rhyce Shaw.

While the players sweated in stifling early morning heat in their first day back following a break, Kirk said they all enjoyed this stage of the year.

"There's not as much pressure on you as during the season, the sun is out, everyone is flying at this time of the year and everyone is in a great mental state," Kirk said.

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