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Jones, Vince set to miss Melbourne's first NAB Challenge game

Ben Guthrie  February 23, 2016 12:21 PM

Libba's delay, Danger time, Gawn's beard Matt Thompson and Nat Edwards with your Tuesday Footy Feed
AFL 2016 Training - Melbourne 130116

Captain Nathan Jones at Melbourne training last month

Clayton Oliver's hands are really good in close and it looks like he'll have a good year

MELBOURNE midfielders Nathan Jones and Bernie Vince are unlikely to feature in the club's first NAB Challenge hit-out against Port Adelaide in Adelaide on Saturday afternoon.

However, defender Heritier Lumumba returned to full training on Tuesday for the first time since having surgery on both of his ankles last September.

Jones trained away from the main group at Gosch's Paddock, working closely with Christian Petracca (toe) and Ben Newton (ankle) on hitting targets on the move and positioning around stoppages.

Melbourne skipper Jones had neck surgery in the off-season but had been in full game preparation mode.

Vince trained fully, but like Jones, missed the club's intraclub hit-out last Friday and has missed a number of sessions over the past fortnight.

Vince, the club's reigning best and fairest winner, has battled hamstring tendinitis through the pre-season. He also broke the little finger in his right hand in a training drill in early December.

The Demons will take a strong squad to Adelaide, keen to develop the squad's continuity and chemistry.

Highly rated youngster Clayton Oliver, selection No.4 in last year's NAB AFL Draft, is likely to feature after impressing in last week's intraclub practice match.

His clean hands and body size around the contest are his standout traits and he put them to good use during the contest.

Developing youngsters James Harmes and Jayden Hunt are also likely to be rewarded with a NAB Challenge berth on the back of strong pre-season campaigns.

Ruckman Max Gawn said Harmes and Oliver had stood out over the pre-season, while he believes second-year midfielder Angus Brayshaw can take his game to another level.

Gawn aims to become No.1

Brayshaw is set for more time in the midfield after a stellar debut campaign in 2015 yielded him 21 games and a top-five finish in the NAB Rising Star Award.

"Angus Brayshaw is going on again, he's looking like he'll have a super year," Gawn said.

"Clayton Oliver's hands are really good in close and it looks like he'll have a good year and even James Harmes has not missed a session all pre-season and he performed well in the intraclub as well."