Will Sydney’s depth be tested come finals? Its return to the winners’ list came with some fresh injury concerns ahead of the final round of the season.
Nick Blakey was subbed out in the third quarter with what was later found to be a crack in his fibula and will now miss the remainder of 2021.
Meanwhile, coach John Longmire said that captain Josh Kennedy is likely to not be risked for the game against Gold Coast.
“We suspect Joey will only have a very low-grade hamstring, it’ll be very minor, he’s actually pulled up very well,” he said.
“We don’t expect him to be able to play this week, we’ll see how he is for next week.
“He’s actually pretty good, he’s not too bad, but I don’t expect him to play this week.
On a positive note, Jake Lloyd, Callum Mills, and Lance Franklin are all likely ins for the game against the Suns.
“We expect Jake to be fine, he’ll come back into the team this week. Millsy, you know we’re hoping he’ll be fine to come back in as well, he won’t be 100% but he hasn’t been for the majority of the year anyway, so we expect him to be available this week, and Lance as well to come back into the team,” Longmire said.
With Blakey out for the year, it’s now a matter of who replaces him.
Options to replace Blakey at halfback for Sydney include Braeden Campbell, who made a return on the weekend as a forward after starting the year as a defender.
“Braeden, well he’s an option to go down back, we know he’s got that flexibility if we need to [send him down back],” Longmire said.
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“He’s played probably the last month as a forward, he’s played early on in the season as a defender, he’s learning his craft every week, he gives us some real speed and punch no matter where he plays.
“We’ll see how we go during the week, but we’ll want that flexibility if we need to.”
Another person who could take Blakey’s spot in the Sydney backline is Colin O’Riordan, who was able to have an impact in the last quarter in Blakey’s absence.
“We know he [Colin]’s played a bit of senior football before; it was good to have him available as the sub that comes back into that replacing Nick role and not shuffle the other members of the team,” Longmire said.
“He did it quite well in the last quarter, he’s played a bit of senior footy, he’s quite capable when given the opportunity.”
Senior experience is important for when opportunities are given as with O’Riordan, but it’s not the only factor according to Longmire.
“You’d like to think that – we’ve got a reasonable squad that we’ve been able to play over the course of the year that has had a different taste of it,” he said.
“That doesn’t mean that no one can- that someone can’t come out of those blokes that haven’t played seniors and still contribute. We’ve got to be open-minded to that as well.
“We’ll wait and see how the weeks progress, as I mentioned before we’ve got three to come back in we hope. Outside of that we’ll wait and see.”
Sydney will finish its home and away season against Gold Coast on Saturday.
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