JUST IN: Key Swans man returns for first game of the season 

Sydney Swans will reintegrate captain Callum Mills into their AFL lineup for his first game of the season against North Melbourne.

Mills has been out of action since tearing his rotator cuff during a Mad Monday incident last year, causing him to miss the entire 2024 season up to now.

Instead of easing him back in through the VFL, Mills will make his return directly to the AFL team for the Saturday afternoon match at the SCG against the rapidly improving Kangaroos.

“Callum Mills will definitely play senior football this week,” coach John Longmire said on Tuesday.

“We sat down during the bye and created a six-week plan to prepare him. He’s had a solid training block, so he’ll be back in the lineup this week.”

“He feels really confident, and he knows himself as well as anyone.”

Mills’ position on the field will be a point of interest during Saturday’s match against North Melbourne. An All-Australian midfielder and club champion as an on-baller in 2022, Mills has often played in defense and might be used there again, given Sydney’s many options in the midfield.

“We’ve got some ideas; I’m not going to declare everything,” Longmire added regarding Mills’ role.

Meanwhile, Luke Parker’s status in the team is still uncertain. Like Mills, Parker has not played this season but is ready to return this week after serving a six-game VFL ban.

Unable to break into the team after a pre-season arm injury, Longmire admitted they are yet to determine whether Parker will play in the AFL or VFL this week.

The high-profile returns of Mills and Parker come amid Isaac Heeney’s tribunal appeal for a one-match ban for rough conduct on St. Kilda’s Jimmy Webster. The Swans hope to have the charge downgraded from intentional to careless.

“It wasn’t intentional, and there was no malice in it at all, so we’ll be challenging,” Longmire said.

A successful tribunal appeal would keep Heeney eligible for the Brownlow Medal, as he is one of the favorites for the award.

“Yeah, he also gets ruled out of this week, which is significant for us, so both areas are important for us,” added Longmire.

For the second week in a row, Logan McDonald had a shot to win the game for the Swans. After his coach criticized his lack of routine in the miss against Fremantle, there was nothing but support following the Saints defeat.

“I was glad he took the shot. In the end, back yourself in. What you definitely don’t do is not have a crack,” he said.

Of greater concern to Longmire is the Swans’ dip in their renowned pressure over the last two weeks.

“There are some elements we need to sharpen up on. Forty tackles very rarely gets it done in a game of football. Our pressure around the footy hasn’t been up to standard. We need to get back to applying enormous amounts of heat around the ball,” Longmire said.

 

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