MELBOURNE might need to wait another week to welcome back Jake Lever from a knee reconstruction after the star defender was unable to press his claims for an AFL return at training.
Coach Simon Goodwin was hopeful Lever would join the main group at Wednesday’s session but he was only able to take part in limited running with the rehab group.
Lever was enjoying a coffee at the AAMI Park cafe 45 minutes before his teammates finished their main hitout ahead of Saturday night’s clash with Adelaide in Darwin.
The 23-year-old ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament in round 11 last season and would make his AFL return nearly 12 months to the day if able to play against his old side.
Speaking before the training run, Goodwin said a rolled ankle in the second VFL game of his comeback and not his knee may delay his return.
“He’s done an incredible amount of work over a long period to bring himself back.
“This is a full 12-month recovery … he’s done eight weeks of training with the group and played a couple of VFL games.
“… He rolled an ankle but if he gets through training today and he feels confident then he’ll play.
“But if he doesn’t feel confident with his ankle, purely his ankle, then we’ll give him another week and he’ll be ready to go for the Queen’s Birthday game the week after.”
The Demons are starting to get relief from the injuries that have contributed to a disappointing 3-7 season.
Christian Salem has recovered from the concussion that kept him out of last week’s loss to GWS and will return to the AFL side, while Steven May (groin) and Kade Kolodjashnij (concussion) will play VFL.
Veteran Jordan Lewis is unavailable after he was suspended for striking in the VFL.
Melbourne are 16th heading into the clash and another loss would give them a mountain to climb in the second half of the season to make the finals.
But Goodwin denied the game had any greater significance.
“There’s urgency in this industry every week … every week is important,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re 3-7 or 7-3 – every week is critical not only in the short term but in terms of the development of your footy club.
“… We haven’t looked at it as ‘where are we going to get back to by the end of the year’.
“What we have looked at is how we can keep getting better.”
© AAP 2019