Longer than expected sideline stint for Sam

On the sidelines: Gunnedah's Sam Naismith will miss Saturday's Sydney Derby due to a medial ligament injury in his knee.
On the sidelines: Gunnedah's Sam Naismith will miss Saturday's Sydney Derby due to a medial ligament injury in his knee.

There has been some bad news for Gunnedah export Sam Naismith.

The Sydney Swans ruckman will miss Saturday’s Battle of the Bridge after his knee injury was worse than first expected.

Naismith, 24, hurt his knee during the final training drill two days out from last week’s clash against West Coast in Perth.

But scans revealed a strain to Naismith’s medial ligament and would sideline the North West talent for at least the next fortnight.

Swans head of football Tom Harley confirmed that Naismith would spend longer than anticipated on the sidelines.

“It is not a disastrous injury by any stretch but he is still in the recovery stage,” Harley told the Sydney Swans Football Club website.

“It was an innocuous training drill, he was doing some stoppage work with the other midfielders and one of his teammates just fell across his knee.

“Clearly it is disappointing for a player to injure themselves at training so we will be without Sam for a couple of weeks.”

But Sydney coach John Longmire is planning for life without the ruckman until at least round eight.

“He is still in a brace which is normal and we’re hoping to get him back in a month,” Longmire said.

The injury was a blow for Naismith, who had clearly established himself as the premier big man for the Swans.

Despite undergoing two surgeries during the off-season, Naismith had started the 2017 season like he finished the back end of 2016.

The 206cm tall, one of Sydney’s best in the AFL grand final loss to the Western Bulldogs, had been averaging just shy of 10 possessions and 30 hit outs in his three appearances before injury.

Naismith has now played 16 AFL games and kicked three goals since becoming the first product of the AFL Tamworth/AFL North West competition to play at the top-level after debuting against Richmond in round 23, 2014.

His continued absence will be a blow for the Swans, who have had their worst start to a season since 1993.

Sydney, Hawthorn and North Melbourne all sport 0-4 win-loss records through the opening month of the AFL season.

But the Swans will be boosted by the return of Kurt Tippett for the clash against the GWS Giants at the SCG.

The forward-ruckman has recovered from an ankle injury, with Harley expecting him to be selected on Thursday night.

“He (Tippett) was really close last week coming off a six-day break and heading over to Perth left us a day or so short,” Harley said.

“Kurt is due to train the full load this week so we are not expecting any issues regarding his availability.”

Isaac Heeney, Jarrad McVeigh and Gary Rohan will also push their claims for a return to the senior side to face GWS after overcoming various concerns.

Sydney is looking to halt a two-match losing streak against the Giants, having won eight of the first nine clashes between the Harbour City rivals.