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One VFL outing proves enough for Viney

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I probably did go into (last) season sore
Jack Viney

MELBOURNE co-captain Jack Viney will return from a long-term foot injury against Carlton on Sunday for his first AFL appearance in nine months.

The tough midfielder last played in round 21 last year – having recovered from plantar fascia surgery only a month earlier – before injuring the bone towards the toes in his right foot.

His absence for the final two rounds in 2017 coincided with the Demons barely edging out Brisbane before a heartbreaking loss to Collingwood that prevented them from ending their 11-year finals drought.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin again stated on Wednesday that the two issues were unrelated.

Viney does not regret his whirlwind 19-day return from surgery last year, but said the way the Demons' season ended still "burned pretty hard" and every goal they concede "hurts".

He played through the plantar fascia problem throughout the 2017 season before relenting to surgery after Melbourne's loss to Sydney in round 15.

The 24-year-old returned via the VFL last week for the Casey Demons and reported no soreness in his injured foot, adding he could have even returned a fortnight ago.

He won't have any game time restrictions in the Blues clash.

 

"I think, for me, the learning out of it was the pre-season, although you try and get fit, I don't think it's a time to kind of push your body," Viney told reporters.

"You still want to train hard, (but) I probably did go into (last) season sore and then there's just no time to make it up and I felt the effects of it come round 15, where I hurt my body.

"In terms of the actual coming back from my plantar fascia, in an ideal world I would have loved to have an extra couple of weeks to really get it right.

"But, at the time, with all the information we had on the table, I felt like I made the right decision to try and come back and play.

"So, looking back, I don't regret anything, but my learning coming from it was 'Make sure you're feeling good coming into the season'."

Viney was never on track for round one, but suffered a setback on season eve that postponed his comeback, when he experienced pain in his big toe from wearing his football boots at training.

"It's been difficult – no doubt – and I probably would have liked at the start of the whole process (to be told) 'Four or five months and you'll be back'," he said.

"That would have been a bit better on my mentality, but when you try and get up … and then you get knocked back … and that repeats for a while, it does take its toll on you mentally.

"I'm thankful my body is in a healthy position right now and I'm in the team to have a crack on the weekend."

Goodwin was thrilled to regain "team-first" Viney, but was wary of Carlton, which won its first game of the year against Essendon last weekend.

Melbourne's two victories over the Blues in 2017 were by a combined 30 points.

"The last two times we've played them have been close matches of footy (and), clearly, there's been some intensity," Goodwin said.

"In that first game last year, we were probably undisciplined in the way we went about our footy and that brought a bit of heat and spice to the contest.

"But we certainly want to be known as a contested ball team. We've tempered how we play, but at the same time, they're fierce contests – you know what you're going to get."