Luckless defender Alex Johnson is determined to ensure his sixth knee reconstruction doesn’t distract Sydney from their push for an AFL premiership.
Scans have confirmed that Johnson on Sunday ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his ‘good’ knee for the first time.
The 26-year-old’s left ACL has already been the subject of five reconstructions and serious infections that derailed his career.
Johnson is yet to decide whether he will attempt yet another comeback, having waited 2136 days after the 2012 grand final to make his AFL return in round 20 this season.
The club and Johnson, who has returned to Sydney, will consult knee specialists next week before mapping out a plan.
“I’ve spoken to him … the most important thing for Alex is to get around him, support him,” Swans coach John Longmire said.
“I’m sure he’ll be doing that to us as well, making sure we keep our minds on the task at hand.
“He’s always been good at that and was good at it on the weekend again.
“Sometimes professional sport isn’t fair. My 13-year-old son summed it up when I got home, he just said ‘Alex doesn’t deserve this, it’s just not fair, he’s a nice guy’.”
Johnson posted a message on social media on Tuesday night.
“Football can be a cruel game at times. The highs and lows in just a week. The support over the last week has been amazing. Thank you,” Johnson wrote.
Some teammates were in tears at the MCG on Sunday, when Johnson suffered his latest setback in innocuous fashion.
Sydney defeated Melbourne by nine points despite the emotional toll caused by Johnson’s agony, and the fact they played most of the game with two fit men on the bench.
Swans skipper Josh Kennedy insists his team will be fully focused on upsetting GWS in Saturday’s derby, in part because of the selfless Johnson.
“Having Alex at the club plays a big part in that. His positivity and just his presence around the team,” Kennedy said.
“He’ll be encouraging everyone.
“It shouldn’t be too hard to get back up and go again.”
Longmire noted it’s far too early to speculate about Johnson’s prospects of returning to the AFL.
“Let the dust settle, let everyone take a deep breath and let him have the operation and recover,” Longmire said.
“We all feel for him … the reality is none of us know what he’s going through.”
Sydney football manager Tom Harley admitted Johnson’s “devastating news” was “shattering for him and for us”.