Swans and Giants hit hard by injuries for Sydney derby
Star midfielder Josh Kelly is set to miss the Sydney derby as both the Swans and the Giants deal with season-ending injuries to key players on the eve of the finals.
There was little joy on Tuesday for both clubs as the full toll of the weekend's damage became apparent.
Luckless Sydney defender Alex Johnson had his worst fears realised with scans confirming he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The Swans were dealt a further blow with veteran defender Nick Smith unlikely to play again until the grand final, if the Swans get that far, after being ruled out for six weeks with a serious hamstring injury.
The news across town was also bleak with dual All Australian Heath Shaw out for the rest of the year with a knee injury while Kelly is "unlikely" to face the Swans.
The two clubs now face a major test of their depth in the final two weeks of the home-and-away season as they jostle for positions on the starting grid for September. The Swans might not get there at all unless they can beat either their cross-town rival or Hawthorn, while injuries are again adding up for the Giants.
Johnson, and the Swans, are coming to grips with the latest cruel blow in the defender's injury-cursed career.
The Swans are waiting until Johnson, who is meeting doctors next week before a sixth knee reconstruction, recovers from surgery before discussing his future. Johnson, who is rookie-listed, suffered the injury in just his second senior game back after missing almost six years. He is unlikely to play again until 2020.
"The immediate short term now is to let the dust settle and let him get his head around it," Swans coach John Longmire said.
"That's the most important thing. There's no hurry or discussion on anything else, I think that would be unfair. I don't think anyone would expect that at all.
"We take it day by day, he might look to get an operation next week. If that's the case we'll take it from there."
Longmire's 13-year-old son summed up the feelings of many in football at Johnson's plight.
"He said when I got home: 'Alex doesn't deserve this, it's just not fair. He's a nice guy'," Longmire said.
"Sometimes professional sport isn't fair and certain players in particular get tested more than any other player. Alex has certainly been tested that way. We all feel for him, we all try and put ourselves in his shoes but the reality is none of us can know what he's going through."
The Swans' defensive stocks, already missing Callum Mills and Lewis Melican, are now being stretched though the return of Zak Jones from suspension and possibly Heath Grundy will help.
Longmire said Grundy was expected to be available for selection after missing two weeks due to mental health issues.
Shaw's hopes of returning in time for the grand final have been dashed with news he will have surgery to repair a damaged medial collateral ligament in his knee.
Shaw has been a vital contributor to the Giants' resurgence with both his rebound and ability to play one-on-one deep in defence.
"It's pretty nasty, it's probably a four-month out operation," Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
"He's had a really good year. We gave him an extended break last year, he played really good footy, especially the last 10 weeks. He'll be sorely missed, because he's been there the last four years."
Kelly will need to train well on Wednesday to take his place in the derby but is considered "more unlikely than likely" to play, Cameron said.
Utility Sam Reid is expected to miss a game with a minor hamstring complaint.