AFTER an undefeated NAB Challenge series Melbourne expects to face selection headaches ahead of round one, with the club hoping to have Angus Brayshaw, Heritier Lumumba, Lynden Dunn and Aaron vandenBerg available.
Melbourne coach-in-waiting Simon Goodwin said young midfielder Brayshaw was likely to play in a VFL practice match next week as he recovers from a minor medial strain suffered in the opening minute of the NAB Challenge.
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Lumumba performed well with the Casey Scorpions on the weekend in his first game back from ankle surgery and Melbourne wants him to play another game ahead of round one.
Dunn (groin) and vandenBerg (ankle) missed the win against St Kilda after minor injuries against the Western Bulldogs last week and may play in the practice match
AFL.com.au understands Christian Petracca and Jack Trengove may play a week later than that quartet with a return over Easter in the VFL possible.
Goodwin played down the significance of winning all three games but said he was very pleased with what he saw from the team.
He said the coaches were prepared to cop the odd mistake while they encouraged the players to be more adventurous when using the ball.
"It is certainly not going to be perfect but the signs are there," Goodwin said.
"We're starting to score a little bit better. We're starting to get a few more inside 50s and with that there are a few more turnovers as well.
"We want our players to be brave and bold and move the ball a certain way so we're going to have to cop them [mistakes] for a little while."
Goodwin praised the pre-seasons of Tomas Bugg, who had 21 disposals and kicked a goal, and Ben Kennedy, who also kicked a goal and showed he was versatile enough to play forward and run in the midfield.
"Tom Bugg and Ben Kennedy are both guys that have come from other clubs that have had a significant impact on our team already with their competitiveness, which is something the club is really striving for," Goodwin said.
Competitiveness and character have been the key qualities Melbourne has looked for when choosing new players to come to the club.
Clayton Oliver once again showed he had those characteristics and he remains in the mix to make his debut in round one against Greater Western Sydney.
"He certainly hasn't done anything wrong. I thought his first half was a little bit sloppy today but he responded extremely well in the second half," Goodwin said.
The club will also make a decision on which rookie to elevate ahead of round one with Viv Michie and Josh Wagner both a chance.
Melbourne's round one opponent, Greater Western Sydney, may be without Jeremy Cameron after he was reported for his bump on the Brisbane Lion Rhys Mathieson, but Melbourne forward Cameron Pedersen might also come under scrutiny after he bumped St Kilda's Nathan Wright high in the final quarter.
Goodwin will now hand the reins to Paul Roos after a successful pre-season.
"We understand we've been able to play our best available team every week and that has helped us to build some confidence in the way we play and set ourselves for round one," Goodwin said.