Clayton Oliver at Melbourne training on January 31, 2024. Picture: AFL Media

STAR midfielder Clayton Oliver has appeared in good spirits as he trained alongside his Melbourne teammates on Wednesday for the first time since taking extended leave from the club earlier this month.

Oliver completed some stretches and running to the side of the main group at Gosch's Paddock, joking and laughing with other members of the rehab group.

It's the first time he's featured at a Demons training session this year but is on a modified program - away from the main group - as he works back from off-season knee surgery.


"Fundamentally it's just great to have Clayton back and it's great to see him with a smile on his face and feeling better," Dees footy boss Alan Richardson said.

"He's done a lot of training himself. He's basically been in the hands of his medical team and that's gone really well for us and more importantly, it's gone well for Clayton.

"He'll still be doing ball work but on the side in the rehab group and we'll have to make sure we bring him up to speed from an educational point of view with any of the adjustments we've made to our game plan."

The club hasn't put a timeline on his return to training with the main group and will continue to manage his re-integration.

Almost three weeks ago, the club said Oliver would take extended leave to work through "personal issues". Oliver had also left Melbourne's December training camp in Lorne early to deal with medical issues.

"Clayton has personal issues that he has been dealing with," Richardson said in a statement on January 11.

"Clayton has been working extremely closely with his personal medical team, and with the support of key club staff, in order to manage these challenges. 

"The club fully supports Clayton taking this important time out, which will allow him to focus on these challenges. Our primary focus is Clayton's overall wellbeing, and we will continue to support him through this period."

Clayton Oliver at Melbourne training on January 31, 2024. Picture: AFL Media

The triple All-Australian was restricted to just 15 games last season because of a drawn-out hamstring injury but returned before finals, when the Demons made a second consecutive straight-sets exit.

Oliver was then a trade target for clubs, with Adelaide among the clubs interested, despite being under contract until 2030 after signing a massive seven-year extension. Melbourne ultimately did not put him on the trade table.

Coach Simon Goodwin said in October he had never considered trading Oliver, but he and chief executive Gary Pert both made it clear the midfielder needed to adhere to the Demons' standards.

Clayton Oliver at Melbourne training on January 31, 2024. Picture: Nat Edwards, AFL Media

Oliver said he did not want to leave the club and committed to knuckling down and meeting Melbourne's standards.

Oliver was pulled over by police on November 16 and charged with driving with a suspended licence.

He has been unable to drive on medical grounds since he was hospitalised following a seizure on October 12, which he partially attributed to side effects of his ADHD medication.

He is due to face court on February 6.

- with AAP