The Courier-Mail



LANCE Franklin will miss tomorrow night’s critical game against Collingwoo­d at the SCG as he continues to struggle with a back injury.

Franklin did not appear for the Swans’ main training session yesterday and was ruled out during the afternoon.

It is the first time the former Hawk has missed two games in a row since he moved to Sydney in 2013.

“We need to be smart with him,” Swans co-captain Kieren Jack said.

“He helped us win the game against Adelaide (Round 18) but it’s probably put him back in his recovery.

“We need to be conservati­ve with him so that when he comes back he’s back for good.”

Franklin missed last week with a sore back after hurting it at training three weeks ago before the game against West Coast.

He carried the injury into the game against Adelaide at the SCG but pulled up sore and missed last week’s match against Geelong.

His absence has come at the worst possible time for the Swans, with their top-four hopes hanging in the balance.

The Swans sit in fifth spot, behind the Western Bulldogs on percentage, and in the run home play Collingwoo­d, GWS (Spotless Stadium), St Kilda (Etihad Stadium) and Gold Coast (Metricon).

Tomorrow night looms as a danger game for the Swans, with star forward Travis Cloke and experience­d premiershi­p player Tyson Goldsack big chances to return for the Magpies.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley conceded his team must win all four remaining games – against Sydney, Richmond, Geelong and Essendon – to have any hope of playing in the finals, and the return of Cloke and absence of Franklin assists their cause.

Cloke (pictured) trained strongly yesterday, and appears certain to be named tonight. “He has had two really strong weeks of training on the track,” Buckley said.

“We will speak to the medicos and get their advice on whether they feel he is up to speed. “If he pulls up well, and we get the tick there, I won’t be stopping him from playing.”

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