Melican an option for under-siege Swans

Lewis Melican could be recalled to reinforce Sydney's struggling and injury-hit defence.
Lewis Melican could be recalled to reinforce Sydney's struggling and injury-hit defence.

Sydney's defence is undermanned and under siege more than any other in the AFL as coach John Longmire mulls a potential return for Lewis Melican.

The Swans, who are sorely missing injured defensive generals Jarrad McVeigh, Heath Grundy and Nick Smith, have conceded a league-worst 60 inside-50s a game this season.

The onslaught is part of the reason the perennial finalists are languishing in 16th spot after a 1-4 start to the year.

Life won't get any easier for Longmire's team in Saturday's SCG derby, when they confront GWS's star-studded midfield plus Coleman medal leader Jeremy Cameron and a fit-again Toby Greene.

Longmire is unlikely to move Sam Reid into defence, as Carlton great Chris Judd suggested earlier this week, but Melican is on the cusp of a recall.

Melican had an excellent debut season in 2017 at age 20, playing 17 games, but a series of hamstring injuries ruined his 2018 campaign.

The key defender was axed after playing the opening two rounds of this season but has since impressed in the NEAFL.

"He (Melican) is a chance," Longmire said.

"The last couple of weeks he's been good. That (being dropped) is part of your development, it's not always onwards and upwards.

"I'm confident he can have a really strong season for us in key defensive post.

"The Giants have got more talls in their forward half than Richmond had, so that's something we're looking at as well."

The Swans' midfield struggles have obviously helped their opponents generate so many inside-50s but sloppy turnovers from the back six have also contributed to the problem.

The absence of McVeigh, Grundy and Smith - who boast a combined 789 games worth of experience - hasn't helped but the veterans are yet to resume training.

"We don't expect them back any time soon," Longmire admitted.

The news is better for young forward Will Hayward, who broke his jaw in round three.

"Hayward trained today and trained really well, looked really good. He's pushing his case hard, that'll just be a medical decision," Longmire said.

"I love his enthusiasm. He's actually looking to get himself a helmet fitted at the moment."

Longmire admitted Reid has been down on form in recent weeks.

The forward has excelled as a loose man in defence in the past but the Swans are keen to keep a settled back six.

"We'd like to be able to have a consistent group down there ... making sure that we don't change it too much," Longmire said.

"It's a new group now and we need to be consistent (so) that group gets confidence playing with each other.

"Most teams get built from the back six and establishing your defence is really important."

Australian Associated Press