MELBOURNE'S Jack Trengove has taken another decisive step in his recovery from a serious foot injury, joining full contact training for the first time since his second bout of surgery last October.
An upbeat Trengove, 24, trained alongside his teammates through almost the entire two-and-a-half hour session, before exiting Gosch's Paddock when match simulation started.
Match practice remains the only hurdle left in the luckless midfielder's bid to return to the football field via the NAB Challenge or the season proper. The No.2 pick from the 2009 NAB AFL Draft has not played since round two, 2014.
While Trengove's presence on the track was a sight for sore eyes for Demons supporters, apparent ankle injuries to Tom Bugg and Dean Terlich were not.
Terlich had to be helped from the field supported by medical staff where he had his right ankle examined and then re-taped.
Bugg, the defender recruited from Greater Western Sydney in the off-season, left the ground of his own volition but did not return to the track.
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Trengove looked sharp in the full ground ball movement drills and received plenty of encouragement from teammates.
He ran hard to receive the footy when going forward and on a number of occasions pushed back with purpose into defence.
His career has been stalled by multiple surgeries – in April last year and then in October – to repair breaks in the navicular bone of his left foot.
Jack Watts was back in full training after a modified fortnight period of rehab, due to a sore knee.
However, skipper Nathan Jones was absent.
Christian Petracca (toe) and Heritier Lumumba (ankles) continued their rehab programs away from the main group.
The Demons are hopeful Petracca will be available for some of the NAB Challenge and if not almost certainly the start of the season.
The highlight of Monday's session came from youngster Jayden Hunt whose superb chase down tackle is exactly why he is considered a smoky for round one.
After turning the ball over in the middle of the ground, Hunt – who is renowned for his electric speed – buttered up and sprinted almost 70m to run James Harmes down from behind.
The defensive act earned the 20-year-old, who has overcome a number of injuries early in his career, a great deal of credit from his teammates.
Melbourne opens its NAB Challenge campaign against Port Adelaide in Adelaide on February 27.