Melbourne hit the track on Thursday morning without Tom McDonald.
The move suggests McDonald, who hasn’t played at AFL level since round 10, will have to spend another week at VFL level after recovering from a lisfranc foot injury.
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In his first competitive game back from the injury last week, McDonald finished with one goal from 11 disposals and two marks at VFL level in Casey’s qualifying final win over Sydney.
McDonald described the injury as the “hardest I’ve ever had” but thought the reserves tune-up would help him push his case for selection this week, despite just a six-day break.
But his absence at training on Thursday would seem to suggest he either needs another week to gain match fitness ahead of a possible preliminary final at AFL level – if the Demons win on Friday night – or that Simon Goodwin and his coaching staff just couldn’t fit him in the 22.
Goodwin, however, has definitively declared Norm Smith medallist Christian Petracca a certain starter for their clash with Brisbane on Friday.
The star midfielder is dealing with a hairline fracture in his leg and a corked calf but Melbourne say Petracca will face the Lions at the MCG on Friday night.
“He’s 100 per cent playing,” Goodwin said of Petracca on Thursday.
“He trained really well in our main training session and he’ll train again today but we’re really confident in terms of how he is.
“He’s moving incredibly well and we’ve been really surprised with his progression throughout the week, and he’s the type of competitor you want.”
The 26-year-old has also been spending time in a cryotherapy machine at extremely cold temperatures to help the calf heal.
Goodwin knows Petracca will need to play through some discomfort but has backed in the three-time All-Australian to thrive.
“This is a great opportunity to put himself on a show with a little bit of adversity during the week,” Goodwin said.
“The pain management’s around his corkie, and making sure that’s right.
“He’s not the only player in the year so far that’s had a corkie and had to come up and play so he’ll be right to go.”
Petracca was clearly hampered by his leg issues for most of the match against the Swans, hobbling to contests, and had nowhere near his usual impact as the reigning premiers suffered a shock defeat.
“He’ll be in the midfield, he’ll play forward, he’ll play a variety of different roles that sit within our game methods,” Goodwin said.
Petracca won’t be the only sore Demons player out there, with gun goal-kicker Bayley Fritsch (knee) and small forward Charlie Spargo (throat) having a lighter week on the track.
Fritsch was one of Melbourne’s best against the Swans, despite some pre-game concern around his knee.
Spargo copped a knock to his throat but was cleared of any serious damage.
– With AAP