IMPORTANT Melbourne defender Jake Lever is aiming to make his long-awaited senior return against his former club Adelaide in Darwin in round 11.
Lever, who ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last year's round 11 win over the Western Bulldogs on June 2, has revealed he is on track to make it back to AFL level almost a year to the day since he underwent reconstructive surgery.
The 23-year-old expects to return in the VFL in a fortnight and is determined to strengthen his claims for promotion for either the showdown with the Crows or the Queen's Birthday marquee clash against Collingwood in round 12.
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"It's a pretty exciting stage at the minute, about two weeks away from playing some limited game time in the VFL," Lever told Channel Seven on Sunday.
"Hopefully maybe the Adelaide game, which would be fantastic, or Queen's Birthday. So two pretty big games that hopefully I come in for."
The 2-5 Demons also expect to regain other key inclusions in co-captain Jack Viney (shoulder), who will miss at least another game, and key defender Steven May (groin), who should be available in two to three weeks.
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"I spoke to Jack yesterday (and) he reckons he's a chance to play. He reckons he could've played last week, he's that tough," Lever said.
Meanwhile, May appears to have made a breakthrough in his recovery.
"He's moving really, really well out on the track," Lever said.
"There was probably a period there early on where he wasn't moving too well (and) he was always in pain with that groin, but now he's starting to really move.
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"He was doing some footy stuff on Friday and I think he's joining the main group maybe in a week or so, so exciting stuff."
The Demons star also hit out at reports of a rift between assistant coach Brendan McCartney and some players and coaches.
"I can confirm that that's not true. When you're 1-5, unfortunately the media try and find little cracks and they try to start rumours that they might have heard on the grapevine," Lever said.
"Macca's a much-loved member of the coaching panel. He's so invested in us being successful that it's just not true."