In a cruel twist of fate, Sydney Swans defender Alex Johnson looks set for another lengthy stint on the sidelines after suffering another apparent ACL injury just a week after playing his first AFL game in almost six years.
The 26-year-old was helped off the field in tears in the first quarter of the Swans’ crucial clash against Melbourne at the MCG, after landing awkwardly during a chase on Demons forward Jesse Hogan.
Johnson was playing in just his second AFL match since the 2012 grand final — since that game, he has suffered from recurring knee injuries that have forced him to undergo five knee reconstructions.
Sydney’s general manager of football Tom Harley confirmed that it was actually his “good” right knee that was injured, not the left which has cause him so many problems.
“It’s the knee he hasn’t had any trouble with, at this stage it looks like an ACL, which is obviously disappointing for everyone,” Harley said.
Johnson’s fairy-tale comeback from injury seemed to be well on track after he played a crucial role in the Swans’ two-point win over Collingwood last week.
In a positive sign, the defender joined the team huddle at quarter-time, where he was consoled by his team-mates, before making his way to the dressing room.
Swans midfielder Luke Parker told ABC Grandstand he is heartbroken by his team-mate’s injury.
“It’s bittersweet to see the journey that Alex has been on in the last four or five years, and your heart sinks when he went down on the boundary,” Parker said.
“Time and time again you see his attitude, you see his mindset towards training and to the club about helping other people, and putting others before himself.
“To finally be out there on the biggest stage is a credit to him, and it’s devastating to see him go down again.
“It was a must-win game, we did all we could to win it and got the job done, but at the same time you’ve got a team-mate who’s put his heart and soul into everything, and unfortunately suffered another major setback.
“The talk when he went off was ‘everyone needs a bit of Alex Johnson in them’, that resilience, that fight, that hunt and that mindset never to give up, and that’s where we’re at in this season.”
Johnson has played just 47 AFL games since being picked by the Swans in the third round of the 2010 AFL Draft.
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