AFL young guns Isaac Heeney and Callum Mills are in line for midfield moves as Sydney ponder how to cover the departure of Tom Mitchell to Hawthorn.
Coach John Longmire admits Mitchell, who played every game last season, averaging almost 28 touches, was an important player for the Swans, but he is confident they can fill the vacancy well.
“We knew we’ve got Heeney coming through and Mills coming through and kids like Jordan Foote all pushing for midfield spots and playing through that area of the ground,” Longmire said on Monday, the first day of pre-season for most of his senior players.
“We’re really confident that we’ve got the players to be able to come in to that role and keep evolving our list like we did last year.
‘We had seven debutants last year and I’m sure there will be a number of new players this year.”
Heeney and 2016 Rising Star winner Mills both came to the club as midfielders and flourished in other roles whilst waiting for a chance to break into Sydney’s deep on-ball rotation.
Mills excelled in an unfamiliar role across half back while fellow Swans Academy product Heeney played primarily up forward for most of his first two seasons.
“Heeney in particular playing a bit more midfield, certainly in the back end of the year,” Longmire said.
“Mills was part need, part teaching last year playing at half back and just took to it unbelievably well.
“We know with Isaac he can play midfield-forward and we certainly know with Millsy he can play midfield-back, so those roles and that flexibility in our team we think is going to be really important.”
While all the Swans are running, midfielder Luke Parker (knee), star forward Lance Franklin and ruckman Toby Naismith (both shoulder) are yet to join the main training group, but are in no danger of missing round one.
Longmire lauded the efforts of midfield star Dan Hannebery who suffered a knee injury in the latter stages of the grand final, but won Monday’s club 3km time trial.
“He would have not run for a month and obviously that affected his off season, but he knows how to prepare and you look at his performance today and he was fantastic,” Longmire said.
The Swans coach, who has guided the club to three grand finals and the finals in each of his first six years.said the club had moved on after reviewing their recent grand final loss to the Western Bulldogs.
“”In the end we probably needed to make sure we attacked it a little bit more with the ball,” Longmire said.