Lance 'Buddy' Franklin can win the Brownlow medal in 2014.
The season-ending injury to Gold Coast superstar Gary Ablett has seen the race for the Brownlow, the most prestigious individual accolade in the AFL, blown wide open.
Ablett, the current Brownlow holder and widely recognised as the best player in the competition, injured his shoulder during last week's game with Collingwood and will require surgery which will see him miss the remaining rounds of the 2014 season.
The Brownlow medal is usually only won by midfielders and has been criticised for its voting system which seems to heavily favour the men in the middle. Buddy Franklin can change that this season.
The Sydney Swans forward has been in dazzling form. His six-goal haul against Carlton this weekend saw him move to 47 goals for the year and places him second in the race for the Coleman medal as the league's top goal-kicker.
It is not just his goals, however, which have put him into contention, as his his overall play has been a major factor in the Swan's club-record equalling 12 consecutive victories which has propelled them to the top of the ladder. Franklin, a marquee signing from Premiers Hawthorn in the close season, has kicked big goals in big moments for his new club who are now heavy flag favourites.
Already boasting a CV including some of the game's highest honours, including two Premierships, two Coleman medals and four All-Australian selections, Franklin may just be able to add the Brownlow to his vast collection.
The award, referred to informally as 'Charlie', is voted for by officiating field umpires on a 3-2-1 basis after each game. Often labelled as 'the midfielders award' by critics, it is widely recognised that midfielde's tend to attract more attention from officials through the centre of the ground and thus earn the majority of the votes ahead of key-position players. Franklin may well just buck this trend.
His match-winning performances are hardly likely to have gone unnoticed by officials, with the spectacular becoming a common thing in recent weeks for the West Australian forward.
Close race for Brownlow Medal
Although Ablett is projected to be leading the vote race at this stage, there are several competitors striving to catch up to the Gold Coast superstar including Franklin's Sydney teammate Josh Kennedy, Geelong's Joel Selwood and Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury.
This season's Brownlow medal race has become one of the most open in recent memory and competition may well be fierce, but few would be surprised if Buddy Franklin took home 'Charlie' in 2014.
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