Luke Parker poses during Sydney's official team photo day on January 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SYDNEY will be without experienced midfielders Luke Parker and Taylor Adams for the first month of the season, following injuries late in the pre-season.

Parker underwent surgery last week to insert a plate and screws into the arm he broke in the match simulation hitout against Greater Western Sydney.

The 31-year-old is set to miss next Thursday night's Opening Round clash against Melbourne at the SCG, as well as fixtures against Collingwood, Essendon and Richmond. 

The Swans face West Coast in the Adelaide Hills during Gather Round and then have a bye in round five. 

Parker has rarely missed matches during his 283-game career at the Swans, averaging 21.8 appearances and only playing fewer than 19 games in a season once – he played all 17 games in the COVID-affected season in 2020 – since his debut season.

With Callum Mills sidelined for at least the first 10 weeks of the season due to a shoulder injury, Sydney will have to navigate the early stages of 2024 without three key midfielders. 

Luke Parker celebrates a goal during the qualifying final between Carlton and Sydney at the MCG on September 8, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Off-season recruit Adams will miss the next three or four weeks after injuring his left knee in Thursday night's AAMI Community Series loss to Brisbane in Blacktown. 

The 30-year-old played no further part in the practice match after his knee was caught in a tackle by Cam Rayner in the third quarter. 

Scans have confirmed a medial ligament strain that will delay his start to life in red and white, after making a shock move from Collingwood last October.


Sydney's midfield depth will be tested in the early stages of the season, but in a wide-ranging interview with earlier in the week, Swans coach John Longmire conveyed his confidence in the club's available options. 

Reigning Bob Skilton Medallist Errol Gulden put the finishing touches on another impressive pre-season on Thursday night, collecting 24 disposals, nine tackles, 489 metres gained and a goal, while James Rowbottom has finished third in the past two best and fairests and Chad Warner has established himself as a star over the past two seasons. 

All-Australian Isaac Heeney is expected to spend more time in the middle this year after playing predominantly forward in the past few years, although that will depend on how the forward line functions without Lance Franklin. 

"He will play more mid at times, but it will be determined on where he is required. The great thing about Isaac is he can go anywhere. He can go midfield, forward, he has been an All-Australian half-forward. We are conscious that we have lost Lance Franklin, who wasn't a bad player, so we will see how that evolves across the season," Longmire said. 

After being subbed in or out of eight games last year, James Jordon moved from Melbourne to Sydney as an unrestricted free agent last October and has made a strong first impression on the Swans, proving in match simulation and on Thursday night that he can spend more time inside, which will help cover the loss of Parker, Adams and Mills. 

"Jordon has been really good this pre-season," Longmire said before the recruit put a full stop on a great maiden summer in the Harbour City by gathering 31 touches, 12 contested possessions, nine marks and four clearances against the Lions. 

"He is a terrific runner, plays his role and has played inside for us, half-forward, wing, so he gives us great flexibility. He will play a mix and it will depend on who is there and what the balance of the midfield group looks like, but he will play inside a bit more [than he has in the past]."

James Jordon during Sydney's training session on January 19, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

While midfield pair Justin McInerney and Braeden Campbell have more runs on the board, former first-round pick Angus Sheldrick is poised to play more senior football in 2024 after showing glimpses of his quality midway through last year before a syndesmosis injury ended his season.

The West Australian is still eligible for the Rising Star Award – he has played nine games across his first two seasons – and has rebounded well over the pre-season after a slow start to the summer. 

"I thought last year he was going really well until he got injured and then he has come in this pre-season and had a little bit of a hip flexor injury over Christmas which set him back a little bit, but then he has got going and been building," Longmire said. "His last month has been good. He is still learning. We know he can get the ball – he is terrific at that – that is a strength and he is genuinely hard, so he is going to be a player for us moving forward."

When Adams returns he could play a similar role to the one he executed last year, dividing his time between half-forward and inside, but according to Longmire, it is far more than just the two hours on the weekend when it comes to the Geelong product.

"The important thing with Taylor is he provides so much off the field," he said. "It's not just on the field with him. He has been a leader at Collingwood, a successful club, for a long time, so I've noticed as much off the field as on the field. Most of leadership comes from off-field.

"The end product is on the ground, but it is in meetings, ideas, discussions, talking about things and that is what Taylor offers. he has been fantastic at that, which is helping our younger midfielders. We know what he can do on the ground and he will deliver that."