SYDNEY has confirmed the news the football community has feared, with luckless defender Alex Johnson set for the sixth knee reconstruction of his career, this time on his ‘good’ right knee.

The 26-year-old has had 12 knee operations, and just a week earlier made an emotional return to the AFL in the Swans’ victory over Collingwood.

Johnson stayed in Melbourne with his family before returning to Sydney on Monday.

“Clearly this is a really disappointing outcome for Alex,” said Sydney football manager Tom Harley.

“Alex has worked so hard over the past six years to get back to playing football and for this to happen in his second game back is just shattering for him and for us.”

“Alex has shown unbelievable resilience and determination over his career, and will continue to be an inspiration to his team mates and the wider AFL community.”

“As we saw after the injury on Sunday, Alex is the ultimate clubman and will be doing all he can to support his team mates from the sidelines for the remainder of the season.”

Johnson spoke with Dr. Tom Cross and Dr. Julian Feller as he decides how to deal with his latest setback.

“He’ll have a further consult next week and we’ll map out what the recovery looks like after that.”

The loss of Johnson wasn’t the only blow to come from last Sunday’s stirring nine-point win over Melbourne at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with fellow defender Nick Smith likely to miss the rest of the year after suffering a hamstring tendon injury in the opening term.

Smith, 30, has lined up in 20 matches this year and the reliable stopper hasn’t dipped below that number since 2010.

“Nick’s got a hamstring tendon injury. At this early stage it looks like six weeks, which obviously makes the season challenging,” Harley said.

“He had a scan yesterday. We’ll gather all of the facts as to the next steps with Nick.”

“Clearly it was disappointing he wasn’t able to play any further part in the game on Sunday and it looks like he’ll be having an extended period on the sidelines also.”

Speedy forward Gary Rohan had a broken hand operated on late last month and hurt it again in the NEAFL last Saturday, but could be right to play in Saturday’s crunch clash against Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium.

“He copped a knock on it early in the game which prevented him from playing any further part in the game,” said Harley.

“He’s been cleared of any damage which is important, so he had X-rays and scans on the Sunday…so we’ll assess him as the week goes by. Hopefully for Gary, he’s able to get up this week.”

Meanwhile, veteran defender Heath Grundy could be named to take on the Giants after taking time away from the game to deal with a mental health issue.

“(He) has trained really well. We’re expecting him to train really well again this week and I would expect him to be in the selection discussion come later in the week,” Harley said.

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