Luke Parker in action at Sydney training on April 16, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

THREE-time club champion Luke Parker looks set for a fourth straight game in the VFL as the selection squeeze at Sydney continues to keep one of the club's greatest players on the outer.

While UFC champion Alex Volkanovski – who delivered the Swans a motivational speech ahead of Friday night's blockbuster with Carlton – was a notable attendee at Sydney's captain's run on Thursday, Parker's absence was equally stark.

There is no confirmation yet from the Swans that their red-hot form means Parker will miss again, but it's looking likely despite his strong VFL form, which included a long-range match-winning goal last week.

"He's got it saved on his phone – he reckons it was 90 metres out," Swans defender Nick Blakey said of Parker's goal against North Melbourne at Arden St.

Of the veteran's absence from the senior side, Blakey said: "That's the evolution of this team now. 'Parksy' is an incredible player and he's done so much for this club. He'll be back in the team at some stage, whether it's this week or not.

"If you know Parksy, he's not one to throw his legs and arms about if things aren't going his way. The way he's gone about it, his leadership hasn't changed. He'll keep going about his business and when it's his time to shine, I'm sure he'll play well."

Luke Parker ahead of Sydney's game against West Coast in R4, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

When Carlton travelled to the SCG last season, it was Blakey who shone brighter than any other player.

In the absence of Tom McCartin (who will miss again this week due to concussion) and Dane Rampe, Blakey dominated defensively with 10 intercept possessions in his 26 touches along with 10 marks.

While it's his trademark dash out of defence that fires up the Swans faithful more than anything else at the SCG, the ability of 'The Lizard' to zone off and cut supply to forwards like Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay means as much to him.

"I'll probably get in trouble (from coach John Longmire) if I don't say defending and getting the big intercept," Blakey joked when asked which side of the game he focuses on.

"Doing a big team action and helping my teammates is something that makes me extremely happy.

Nick Blakey during Sydney's training session on February 16, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"My offensive stuff usually comes off the back of that. When you (play against) good players (Curnow and McKay), you have to be on in everything that we do. We'll have our work cut out as defenders and it's a massive challenge and one we're ready for and really excited by."

Blakey led the Swans to victory over the Blues in round 11 last year along with along with Chad Warner, who won the Goodes-O'Loughlin Medal for best on ground after 29 disposals and two goals.

But Carlton secured a six-point win in the clash that mattered more, an elimination final at the end of last season, as they pushed all the way through to a preliminary final.

"It's never easy going out in finals. Now you've said it, maybe (it acts as further motivation). You don't like losing in finals and Carlton are a big team and tomorrow night will be a big game," Blakey said.

A strong sub-plot to Friday night's clash will be the dangerous Will Hayward amid a bumper offer from Carlton to exercise his free agent options and join the Blues after eight seasons as a Swan.

Will Hayward celebrates a goal during Sydney's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round eight, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Back-to-back four-goal games and 19 majors for the season have underlined Hayward's importance to Sydney.

While Hayward has been in close to career-best form, Tom Papley's output in terms of goal has been slightly down, with the small forward managing 13 goals from nine games this season, including just three in his past three matches.

But Blakey says the energetic 27-year-old is about more than just what he can add to the scoreboard.

"'Paps' is massive whether he's kicking goals or not," Blakey said.

"The way he communicates with his teammates, the love he has for his teammates, he gives a real energy to this team and he's a real barometer to this team.

"Maybe on the outside he hasn't been doing the things you said but on the inside, he's been crucial to our forward line. We have a young forward line at the moment with the three young talls and he's been massive for them."