Jimmy Toumpas will make his debut on Sunday
MELBOURNE will unveil seven debutants on Sunday against Port Adelaide at the MCG, as coach Mark Neeld continues his drastic rebuild of the side.
Prized father-son selection Jack Viney will play, as will fellow draftees Jimmy Toumpas and Matt Jones.
Joining them in the side will be recycled players Shannon Byrnes and Tom Gillies (both from Geelong), Cam Pedersen (North Melbourne) and David Rodan (Port Adelaide).
But Chris Dawes, brought across from Collingwood at the end of last season, won't play as he continues his recovery from a hamstring complaint.
"We spoke at length about his selection as a match committee group but we decided to back in the players who had completed the whole pre-season," Neeld said on Thursday.
"We're not going to risk him, so we'll wait until he has completed his entire rehabilitation program."
Co-captain Jack Trengove will also be watching from the stands on Sunday, however Neeld confirmed that star forward Mitch Clark had recovered fully from his foot injury and will play.
Viney needed to get through a VFL practice match last weekend to convince the Demons he had overcome a neck injury from earlier in the pre-season.
"I had to perform well and it was completely in my control whether I would play," Viney said. "I did alright and it was left in the hands of the coaches."
Viney, whose father Todd played played 233 games for the Demons between 1987 and 1999, and who is now the club's player development, will make his debut amid high expectations from supporters given his outstanding junior career.
"It presented a really good opportunity for Jack to share something with Todd," said Neeld, of a gathering at the club on Monday where father and son learned of Jack's selection. "It's great to facilitate that as a club."
A hard-headed midfielder in the mould of his father, Viney said he hoped the year he spent training with the club last season would help him adjust quickly to the demands of senior football.
"I'll bring an honest effort," he said. "I'll be pretty competitive, good in the stoppages and leaving nothing out there."
Toumpas was the fourth selection at last year's NAB AFL draft and the silky midfielder has earned instant cult status among Melbourne supporters and seemingly, the entire Greek population of his native South Australia and who he jokingly suggested will arrive at the MCG en masse on Sunday to watch him play.
"I just tried to get myself in the best possible nick," he said after his own slow start to the summer.
Jones is a 25-year old outside midfielder from the Box Hill Hawks, via Labrador and South Croydon, who was selected with the 52nd pick at last year's national draft.
"He's had a particularly impressive pre-season," Neeld said. "Particularly with the running and the gym work. It was clear that although Matt has not played any AFL senior footy, he basically knows what he's doing and his consistent form continued through the NAB series."
Neeld said that there were no great expectations for any of his draftees and he repeated remarks from earlier in the pre-season that they will be eased through the season.
He also noted that the Demons had departed from the norm as the first club to date to name draftees in the side for the opening round.
"It's a time of excitement for our supporters and members and that's great and not lost on us. But we'll place realistic expectations on these lads," he said.
Ashley Browne is an AFL Media senior writer. @afl_hashbrowne