‘Delicate decisions’: Jackson set to return but Viney to miss for Demons
Versatile key forward Luke Jackson has all but recovered from finger surgery but vice-captain Jack Viney faces more weeks on the sidelines, as Melbourne deal with a selection squeeze.
Coach Simon Goodwin said after training on Wednesday that Jackson, who had surgery on a broken finger earlier this month, was all but certain to be fit for selection to face the Crows in Adelaide on Saturday.
Luke Jackson is pushing for selection after missing one match with a broken hand.Credit:Getty Images
“He has got to tick through a few more things but he was doing everything today. He looks really promising. We haven’t made a decision on that yet but everything at the moment looks like that he will get through and that will give us some selection headaches,” he said.
“We’ve got some delicate decisions to make, they are not easy decisions. It is competitive for spots but we have a mature group. They understand where that sits.“
Jackson had played in all eight of Melbourne’s wins to start the season, claiming a Rising Star nomination after his 22 disposals and a goal against North Melbourne in round seven, before missing the win over Carlton last Sunday.
His potential return means the big-man squeeze is on, for Sam Weideman replaced Jackson last week and had 13 disposals, including five marks, against the Blues in a 26-point win.
Weideman, off contract and with rival clubs circling, was also a strong back-up ruckman but when compared to Jackson, Goodwin said that the latter was “a really good second ruck, he can change momentum in games”.
“But we didn’t feel we think we lost much with Sam in the second ruck. He contributed really strongly in that phase of the game,” Goodwin said.
Tom McDonald has become a selection lock. Ben Brown was goalless against the Blues but booted five combined goals in his previous two matches, and he gives the Demons a focal point deep in attack. That skipper Max Gawn is also a tall ensures a selection headache.
Viney missed the season opener but played the next five matches before a stress reaction was confirmed in his left big toe ahead of the clash against the Kangaroos in Hobart.
It had appeared likely he would not return until mid-season but he said last week he was tracking well, and this week there had been suggestions he could return earlier than expected. He is desperate to rejoin an unbeaten team seeking a 10th-straight win and an end to a 57-year premiership drought – the longest in the AFL.
“He is really re-loading his foot. It really is a week-by-week proposition. He won’t play this week, not sure about next week but every step that he takes in the re-loading program has got to be done diligently,” Goodwin said.
“He has got to get through every stage. Just at the moment, he is not quite there but he is not too far away.“
Nathan Jones strained a hamstring at training last week
but resumed running days later and will return via the VFL.
The former skipper, with 301 senior matches to his credit and seeking the ultimate farewell present come September, was dropped after round seven and is now in a fight to regain his spot.
Goodwin said he had spoken with Jones about his potential role as a regular medical substitute because of the experience he brings while on the bench.
“I think one of the strengths of Nathan is that he brings versatility to our team. He can play a number of different roles, whether that be wing or inside or half forward. At the moment, it’s just highly competitive for outright spots in those positions,” he said.
The Demons have started the season with nine consecutive wins for the first time since 1956 and are overwhelming favourites to topple the rebuilding Crows. Then comes what shapes as one of the matches of the season, when they face fellow flag fancies the Western Bulldogs on a Friday night at Marvel Stadium in round 11.
Much has been made of their defensive mindset across the field the team has – the Demons are ranked No.1 in the pressure factor and in post-clearance pressure – and Goodwin again praised his side for an inability to keep “resetting” each week.
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up here to our Real Footy newsletter delivered to your inbox on Mondays and Fridays.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article