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Dees 'confident' sore forward will play round one

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Tom McDonald played just one of the Demons' JLT Community Series games - AFL,Melbourne Demons,Tom McDonald,Jordan Lewis,Simon Goodwin,Bayley Fritsch
Tom McDonald played just one of the Demons' JLT Community Series games
We're confident he'll be right for round one
Simon Goodwin on Tom McDonald

MELBOURNE remains confident key forward Tom McDonald will be fit to face Geelong in round one despite a nagging toe injury keeping him out of the Demons' JLT Community Series clash with St Kilda last week. 

And coach Simon Goodwin is optimistic veteran midfielder/half-back Jordan Lewis will be ready to play against the Cats despite a calf injury ruling him out of the club's pre-season campaign. 

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Doubt has grown over McDonald's availability for Melbourne's season opener on March 25 after he was left out of the Demons' final hit-out last week. He played in their first outing against North Melbourne, when he kicked a goal from 12 touches.

But Goodwin told AFL.com.au that the 25-year-old has enough time up his sleeve to be cleared to return.

"I'm confident [he will play round one]. He's got a sore toe and he's had that for a month or so," Goodwin said as he enters his second season in charge of the Demons.

"It (McDonald not playing last week) was really just an opportunity to use the extra time we've got … to really build him up. It's about getting on top of that before we hit the season, we know it's a long season. We're confident he'll be right for round one." 

McDonald, who also had surgery on both of his ankles at the end of last season, kicked 23 goals in 2017 in what was his first genuine stint as a key forward.

Another player the Demons are sweating on to be ready to meet Geelong at the MCG is Hawthorn premiership star Lewis. But Goodwin said the 31-year-old had done enough training before the injury and was "tracking well" to be up for selection.  

"He's back doing a really high load within his training, so he'll definitely put his hand up for round one," he said. 

"He hasn't played a lot of footy in the summer but he's done a hell of a lot of training, and only missed the few weeks where we happen to play a few games. But he's a mature person, he's a mature body and he knows what he needs to do to be right. 

"He hasn't missed any other training so we're confident in his preparation."

Goodwin described the Demons' impressive beginning to the year in the JLT Community Series as "a starting point", but said he was pleased to see the messages of the pre-season coming through on the field.

"We've got some good players in form, they've had a really good summer, our game plan seems to be stacking up pretty well. You want to learn about your group and learn about your game style in that first couple of weeks, which we have," he said.

Goodwin stopped short of guaranteeing first-year forward Bayley Fritsch a spot in the Demons' first game, but expected the 21-year-old to have an impact at senior level across the season. The former Casey Demon has caught the eye in the past two weeks. 

"He's given himself every possibility. It's tight for selection, but we picked him at pick 31 and we think he's got enormous upside and talent. He reads the game incredibly well and he's got great fundamentals to go with it. He's slotted into our program really well," Goodwin said.