MELBOURNE isn't putting a timeframe on Jack Viney's return after the co-captain suffered a setback with his troublesome foot.
Meanwhile, important big man Tom McDonald's return date is also unclear as he battles his own foot issue, while club champion Clayton Oliver is facing a fitness test on his sore knee.
Viney was already ruled out of Sunday's round one blockbuster against Geelong but his comeback has been delayed after he started experiencing pain in his big toe from wearing his football boots at training.
The gun midfielder missed both JLT Community Series matches and has had a cortisone injection to help deal with the persistent issues.
"Jack had started training with the group. As he was transitioning into boots, his big toe got a little bit sore and we’re very conscious that he’s had some soreness around that foot," elite performance manager Dave Misson told melbournefc.com.au.
"Originally, he had the plantar fascia [injury] last year and then he had some bone soreness on his third toe.
"Now it’s his big toe, which isn’t significant, but again, it warrants us unloading him for a week to 10 days and then reloading him again.
"The fact that Jack hasn’t done a lot of training with the group may mean that the reloading period needs to be a little bit longer.
"But again, we haven’t put a timeframe yet and we want Jack’s foot to feel good. We want him to feel good training in boots before he plays a game."
McDonald has battled a sore big toe for about two months and the injury has deteriorated since the opening JLT clash with North Melbourne.
"We’ve given him 10 days off legs and he’s improved significantly, but we feel, again, it’s not about round one or even round two," Misson said.
"It’s trying to set him up to have a good year. Because he’s improved so much, by deloading him, we’re going to do that for another 10 days or so.
"Then it’s about how much work does he need to get up to play – and we’re not quite sure about that to be honest, at the moment."
Oliver copped a knock to his knee against St Kilda as the Demons rounded out their pre-season preparations and was on light duties on Monday.
"Even though he didn’t join in with the group he did some good work with the rehab group," Misson said.
"He’ll look to train tomorrow (Thursday) with the group and we fully expect him to be OK."
Aaron vandenBerg (ankle) and Pat McKenna (hamstring) are both listed as indefinite but both have started running.
"Aaron has been really slow with that ankle, but he’s now run outside three times and has pulled up really well from each session," Misson said.
"It’s pretty early in the rehab process, but we’re pretty encouraged about how he’s going."
In better news for Melbourne, co-captain Nathan Jones (back), veteran Jordan Lewis (calf), Alex Neal-Bullen (quad) and James Harmes (concussion) will be available for the clash with the Cats at the MCG.