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Gawn late to training, only walks laps

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Max Gawn could only walk laps at training on Thursday - AFL,Melbourne Demons,Max Gawn
Max Gawn could only walk laps at training on Thursday

MELBOURNE ruckman Max Gawn could only walk laps at training on Thursday, but coach Simon Goodwin has backed him to play in the Demons' crunch clash against Sydney on Sunday

Gawn arrived late to the session at Gosch's Paddock on Thursday morning with Sam Weideman and Mitch King handling the ruck drills in his absence.

MATCH PREVIEW Demons v Swans

It is believed Gawn may be suffering from a calf issue, although Goodwin refused to elaborate on a specific injury and instead described his ailments as various "bumps and bruises".

He added that the star ruckman was "just having a light week" and was really confident he would play on Sunday.

"He's had a big load throughout the year so it's just been about managing him through," Goodwin said. 

"His plan this week is to train on Saturday and he's under no doubt to play this week.

"He's just got some bumps and bruises. He's had a huge load over the last 15, 16 weeks, so it's just to really lighten his week off, he'll train fully on Saturday and play on Sunday.

"We're really confident on that."

Jake Melksham did running drills away from the main group as he tries to prove his fitness following a hamstring strain, but Goodwin said he wouldn't play this week. 

Melksham missed the Demons' 96-point win over Gold Coast with the minor injury and is expected to return next Sunday against West Coast. 

Michael Hibberd is still at least one week away from returning from a quad strain but was back running on Thursday.

Goodwin said there was a "really strong chance" he would come straight back into the AFL side, also against the Eagles, despite last playing in round 17.

"He was really close to playing this week," he said.

"He's done a fair bit of training over the last week and a half."

The Demons will be hoping to limit Lance Franklin's influence after his six-goal haul against Collingwood, but will be without Joel Smith after he broke his collarbone against Gold Coast.

 

Goodwin confirmed Cam Pedersen, who has been playing in defence in the VFL, Jayden Hunt and Josh Wagner were in the mix to replace him, while Bayley Fritsch had a taste of the backline late against the Suns and could be rotated through there again.

But the question remains – how do they stop Buddy?

"It's a good question – he's a fair player," Goodwin said.

"Sam Frost will get the first look at Buddy and clearly will have some guys who will operate through him as well with Oscar McDonald as well.

"We'll have some plans in place but no doubt he's a huge challenge.

"I think we saw last week again what he's capable of doing, he can single-handedly take the game away from you.

"We're aware of that and we'll make sure we'll have some plans in place."

He also said the Demons were keen to prove their "character" this week against a "class footy club" with the next three games to determine whether they finish in the top four or miss the finals altogether.

"We've been looking forward to this moment for a while now," he said.

"We've worked really hard as a club to be in this position and we're excited and looking forward to the challenges ahead over the next few weeks and there's no bigger challenge than the Sydney Swans.

"It's something we've really aspired towards, to be in this position, and now it's about being really grabbing that opportunity."

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