The Kick-off: The sports stories you need to know this morning

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Alex Johnson of the Swans (centre) copped yet another ACL tear, after nearly six years on the sidelines.
Alex Johnson of the Swans (centre) copped yet another ACL tear, after nearly six years on the sidelines.Source: AAP

Swans leave door open for ‘special’ Alex Johnson return

After more injury heartbreak for Alex Johnson, the Sydney Swans aren’t pressuring their luckless defender to make an immediate call on his playing career.

According to the Herald Sun, Swans football boss Tom Harley said “It’s far too early to even contemplate that (decision).”

“I’m sure Alex has a view, and if I know Alex as well enough, he will throw himself into a rehab. But clearly we haven’t had that discussion and that will play out in the fullness in time.

Harley also said the side will investigate if Johnson is predisposed to the injury, but stated that “it’s inconclusive at this stage” whether Johnson has biomechanical issues with his knees.

Morris: how Swans can help AJ

New Penrith Panthers coach Cameron Ciraldo at the Panthers Rugby League Academy, Penrith.
New Penrith Panthers coach Cameron Ciraldo at the Panthers Rugby League Academy, Penrith.Source: News Corp Australia

Ciraldo opens up on Cleary and Gould

Ivan Cleary might replace Penrith Panthers caretaker coach Cameron Ciraldo, but that hasn’t stopped him from sending messages of support to the man he could put out of a job.

Ciraldo yesterday gave an exclusive interview to The Daily Telegraph, revealing Cleary calls him regularly to offer advice, and texted his support throughout the tumultous last week.

Ciraldo said Cleary has been the most influential figure on his fledgling coaching career, saying “he has been a mentor to me and a friend as well.”

Still somewhat shocked at his promotion to head coach, Ciraldo said he’s not thinking about coaching under Phil Gould’s shadow, saying he’s “just been getting on with business.”

Dan Hannebery could leave the Swans for the Saints, but not without some hefty trade compensation.
Dan Hannebery could leave the Swans for the Saints, but not without some hefty trade compensation.Source: AAP

Swans demand Top 10 pick for Hannebery

The Sydney Swans will ask St Kilda for their precious first-round draft pick in exchange for the services for Dan Hannebery, according to the Herald Sun.

The Swans will offer their own first-round pick (around No. 13), but will happily nab Saint’s draft position, likely to be No. 3, 4 or 5.

Hannebery kicked a goal and racked up 26 disposals in his return against Melbourne on Saturday, his most disposals from 12 games this year.

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We won’t be seeing Rebecca Maddern with this pair on the Footy Show anymore.
We won’t be seeing Rebecca Maddern with this pair on the Footy Show anymore.Source: Supplied

Bec Maddern not returning to AFL Footy Show in 2018

According to the Herald Sun, Rebecca Maddern won’t be back on The Footy Show this year, as Channel 9 undergoes a major revamp to save the struggling show.

Maddern became the first woman on The Footy Show panel in 2016, but a severe decline in ratings this year — and Maddern giving birth to her first child four months ago — mean the show is set for a makeover.

Maddern was on Friday announced as one of the faces of Nine’s tennis coverage, and currently also co-hosts Australian Ninja Warrior.

Rooney's game-winning genius

Rooney's game-winning genius

1:18

Ennis: Field can save Dragons’ season

The Dragons should bank on 20-year-old youngster Jai Field to save their season from catastrophe.

Gareth Widdop is out for an extended period with a dislocated shoulder, giving Field the chance to step into the halves and it is a move the Dragons must make, according to Fox League expert Michael Ennis.

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Cubs win with walk-off slam!

Cubs win with walk-off slam!

1:26

Surprise! Smith back on top of ICC batting rankings

Despite having not played a Test since the ball tampering incident in March, Steve Smith has regained his crown as the ICC’s top-ranked Test batsman.

India captain Virat Kohli overtook Smith last week after scoring 200 runs against England in the first Test.

But his meagre 40 runs in England’s second-Test demolition job at Lord’s saw him slip behind Smith once again.

England’s Jimmy Anderson comfortably remains atop the bowling standings, after match figures of 9-43.

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Maloney knee injury confirmed

Maloney knee injury confirmed

2:06

Big blow to Penrith with Maloney sidelined indefinitely

Penrith’s top four hopes have been dealt a major blow with five-eighth James Maloney sidelined until at least the NRL finals with a knee injury.

The Panthers confirmed the Blues’ Originwinning five-eighth had suffered a grade two medial ligament tear during Saturday’s comeback win over the Titans and he will miss three to six weeks.

Smith's grubby tackle on Feki

Smith's grubby tackle on Feki

0:23

Footy Show apologises for offensive Dave Taylor segment

The Channel Nine Footy Show has offered an apology to former NRL player Dave Taylor for a not-so-humourous segment taking aim at his size.

The segment was meant to show a gutsy play from the forward, but instead focussed solely on his weight.

“Nine would like to apologise to former NRL player Dave Taylor for any offence caused by a segment on the Sunday Footy Show yesterday,” a spokesman for Channel Nine said.

Host Erin Molan also tweeted an apology.

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