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Oliver to shine after tumultuous pre-season

Clayton Oliver talks with Demons development coach Brendan McCartney - ${keywords}
Clayton Oliver talks with Demons development coach Brendan McCartney

EMERGING Melbourne midfielder Clayton Oliver is set to take his game to another level in 2017.

That is teammate Aaron vandenBerg's assessment after watching his young teammate mature over a challenging pre-season.

"I'm a big fan of Clayton Oliver," vandenBerg told AFL.com.au

"I think he'll take his game to new heights. 

"He's a very good young kid, he trains very hard and I think he'll become a very good player in the future."

The 19-year-old has started to earn back the trust of his teammates and the club after being charged with drink-driving in the off-season.

Oliver, who averaged 19.2 disposals across 13 games in his first season, has lifted his training standards immeasurably over the past three months.

That came after he returned to the club in November in poor condition and had to begin training with the rehab group to return his fitness level to accepted levels. 

Oliver, pick No.4 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, was a standout on the club's recent pre-season camp in Maroochydore and continues to elevate his play during match simulation at training.

Already considered one of Melbourne's best stoppage players, Oliver has worked diligently on improving his ability to win more uncontested possessions in 2017.

His average of 9.5 contested possessions 2016 was impressive, but with an improved endurance base the Demons are hopeful he will stay more involved over the course of a game, boosting his uncontested possession count.

Star recruit Jordan Lewis' impact had also been keenly felt around the club, vandenBerg said.

Lewis, who has been elevated to the club's leadership group in his first season after being traded from Hawthorn, acts like an extra coach out on the training track, according to vandenBerg.

"The biggest thing I've noticed with Jordan is his game style stuff on the field," he said.

"He has a great sense of how training's going or how we're moving the ball and how we're setting up defensively.

"He can make pretty quick decisions on the move, which helps the team with our game style.

"I'm not really too concerned if he has blinders of games but as long as he can bring the right mentality and set the right example for the younger players, and help us when we need to take action in certain parts of our game, then that's going to be a great benefit for us." 

Melbourne will hold an open training session on Friday afternoon at Olympic Park Oval (Collingwood's training ground), with a key focus on match practice. 

The Demons begin their JLT Community Series campaign against the Western Bulldogs at Whitten Oval next Saturday night.

Nathan Jones and new recruit Jordan Lewis at training. Picture: AFL Photos