Callum Mills in action at Sydney training on May 30, 2024. Picture: Phil Hillyard

SYDNEY will bring captain Callum Mills straight back into their AFL team to take on North Melbourne for his first game of the season.

Mills has been sidelined since a Mad Monday mishap last year that tore his rotator cuff and has seen him miss the entirety of the 2024 campaign to date.

But rather than give him a week in the VFL to adjust to the tempo of the game, Mills will return to the AFL side at the first time of asking for Saturday afternoon’s SCG match-up with the fast-improving Kangaroos.

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

"We sat down at the bye and came up with a six-week plan to get him up to what he needed to do. He’s had a really good block, so he’ll come back in this week.

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

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

Just where Mills will play will be of interest come the start of Saturday’s encounter with North.

An All-Australian midfielder and club champion as an on-baller in 2022, Mills has been used in defence regularly in the past and may be deployed there again amid the plethora of options in Syndey’s engine room.

"We’ve got some ideas; I’m not going to declare everything," Longmire added on the Mills role.

The uncertainty of Luke Parker’s place in the team remains though.

Like Mills, the three-time club champion is also yet to feature this season but after a six game VFL ban he is ready to return this week.

Luke Parker warms up before the round four match between West Coast and Sydney at Adelaide Hills, Mt Barker, April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

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

The high-profile returns of Mills and Parker occur amid the backdrop of Isaac Heeney’s tribunal appeal for a one match ban for rough conduct on St.Kilda’s Jimmy Webster.

The Swans are hopeful they’ll be able 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 tribunal win would avoid one of the favourites in Heeney being declared ineligible for the Brownlow Medal.


"Yeh, 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 and after his coach bemoaned his lack of routine in his 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.

Sydney players react after the round 17 match between St Kilda and Sydney at Marvel Stadium, July 7, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"It’s not just what the coach demands, it’s what the game demands. Putting heat on around the ball, usually good things happen when that works."

Saturday’s game with North looked like one of the more lopsided encounters of the season several weeks ago, but back-to-back defeats for the Swans and two wins in the Roos’ last five games, as well as a string of close defeats, has altered that outlook.

"I watched them against Collingwood when they only got rolled at the very end, the first half of footy was as good as any team’s played, against last year’s premiers.

"They’re clearly tracking the right way, they’ve got young players with great belief, it’ll be a tough game," said Longmire.