Callum Mills at Sydney photo day ahead of the 2024 AFL season. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY captain Callum Mills has backed the Swans' midfield to cover his and teammate Luke Parker's injury absence, with Mills taking the next step in his recovery from his shoulder reconstruction.

Mills, who will enter his first season as Sydney's sole captain, remains focused on a return around the mid-point of the Swans' campaign after surgery on his off-season shoulder injury. 

"It's going well. It's a slow burn but we're on a path and we're really excited by the return. The path is hopefully around mid-season, that's our return goal, and I'm getting strength into it at the moment and enjoying being able to lift and do some stuff," Mills told

"The next little bit is about getting the muscles as strong as possible, so I'm back lifting weights which is nice."

Luke Parker, John Longmire and Callum Mills at Sydney photo day ahead of the 2024 AFL season. Picture: AFL Photos

Mills' Mad Monday mishap has made for a long recovery period, with the 26-year-old getting to the next phase of his program as he gets ready for a game day role on the Swans' interchange alongside coach John Longmire.

"I've had the time to process it all and get into my work. I'm really enjoying getting stuck into it. It can be quite bland at times but that's part and parcel of it," he said. 

"I think I'll be on the bench and will be riding shotgun with 'Horse' so I'm looking forward to that. It keeps me involved and I'll be able to help the boys on the bench. I did a little bit of it last year with my calf injury but having a matchday role will be really nice and hopefully I can help as much as possible." 

John Longmire and Callum Mills after Mills was unveiled as Sydney's captain for the 2024 season. Picture: Phil Hillyard/AFL Photos

The Swans bowed out of last year's finals series in the opening week, having overcome an inconsistent and injury-hit first half of last season to lock in an elimination final clash with Carlton. The Blues won by a goal and ended the Swans' campaign a year after their Grand Final defeat to Geelong, with Mills saying their early exit still stung.

But they'll have to do it in the early stages at least without Mills and Parker, who broke his arm against the Giants last week. The Swans said a timeframe for his return will be clearer in coming days. 

"It was a bit of a blow last week but he's as tough as they come. He came off with a bit of a sore arm and when he does that it's 'call the ambulance' kind of stuff because he's a tough character. He's had surgery and should be back into it soon," Mills said.

"I think there's plenty [who could fill the role]. Errol (Gulden) did a lot last year, James Rowbottom, Taylor Adams coming in. We've got a really deep midfield which we're really proud and happy with, so there'll be plenty of guys who can run through there."