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Franklin, Menzel lock eyes on Round 1

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 31: Lance Franklin of the Swans poses for a photograph during the Sydney Swans 2019 official team photo day at the Royal Hall of Industries on January 31, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media)
Star Sydney Swans forward Lance Franklin poses for the camera at last week's club photo day.

Sydney superstar Lance Franklin and fellow forward Dan Menzel are yet to return to full training after groin surgery, but the Swans are preparing for them to be available for their season opener against the Western Bulldogs.

Franklin had an operation in November to fix an injury that failed to respond to rest over summer, while Menzel began training with his new club after signing as a delisted free agent, before having surgery after experiencing soreness in his groins in December.

The Swans had hoped to have the goal-kickers in full training by February, but both are still on limited programs, and while Franklin has been running over the past fortnight, Menzel is less advanced.

That rules them out of the club's two JLT Community Series matches next month and places doubts over their availability early in the season proper.

Despite the continued absence of the two stars, Sydney's forwards coach Steve Johnson told AFL.com.au after training on Wednesday that the club remains confident Franklin and Menzel can return by the time the Swans take on the Dogs at Marvel Stadium on March 23.

"Everything is progressing well, they haven't had any setbacks, and if all goes to plan we certainly expect them to put their hand up to play round one," he said. 

"What things look like before then it's too hard to tell."

Training together in the rehab group will no doubt build a bond between Franklin and Menzel, and Johnson believes it's just one of the ways in which the experienced duo can make the most of their time off the deck.

"It's not ideal that they're not on the track but there's other methods we can use to get cohesion between the forwards," Johnson said.

"We make sure they're watching as much training as they can and passing on as much of their knowledge as possible, but also when we review training, we make sure everyone has an input into the various roles they have to play.

"We'd love them to be out there growing that chemistry with one another because for most of last year we weren't able to do that with the low numbers we had on the track, and the limited training our younger players were allowed to do. 

"Hopefully sooner rather than later they're out there doing a bit more.

"Dan has got a smart footy brain so he speaks up a lot in meetings, and he's had a positive influence on the group so far.

"Clearly, once he gets out there and he's able to speak about his own game and pass that on to others, he'll have his biggest influence on our players."

The Swans will bank on a heathy scoreboard return from two of the competition's most gifted forwards this year, but while questions remain about their ability to work alongside each other inside 50, Johnson backed them to find the synergy the team needs early in the season.

"Time will tell, it's very hard to predict how they'll play together, but we got Dan to the club because we thought he could provide help for Lance in a goal-kicking capacity," he said.

"Lance was really happy to get Dan to the club and the one thing both players are striving for is a premiership, so they want to get back into training as soon as possible to build their chemistry.

"That’s the goal to start with, and hopefully they can gel as quickly as possible."