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King's pain could be Smith's gain at Melbourne

Joel Smith could earn an upgrade from the rookie list

TALENTED Melbourne rookie Joel Smith's prospects of being added to the senior list and making an early season debut increased on Friday when the Demons placed 20-year-old Mitch King on the long-term injury list.

Smith, the son of former Melbourne high-flier Shaun Smith, has had an impressive pre-season and earned selection for the Demons' opening two games in the JLT Community Series.

A former basketballer, he was recruited as a Category B rookie and was a solid performer in last year's Casey Scorpions team that made the VFL Grand Final.

He has been named in Melbourne's squad to play Carlton on Saturday at Casey Fields.

Despite his good form, the Demons are yet to make a decision on whether they will elevate a rookie to replace King, with other contenders Mitch White playing senior football last season and 26-year-old Tim Smith experienced enough to step straight into the line-up if form warranted his inclusion.

The unlucky King has been making good progress after hurting his knee in April last season, but the Demons are taking a cautious approach with him.

King previously injured his knee as a 17-year-old playing TAC Cup with the Murray Bushrangers meaning last year's operation was a second reconstruction for him.

The Demons remain confident in his long-term prospects having selected him with the No.42 pick in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft.