MELBOURNE is set to welcome back key contributors from injury for Saturday's crunch game with Essendon that could decide the club's finals fate.
Michael Hibberd (ankle), Luke Jackson (hamstring) and James Harmes (hamstring) are all hoping to be available, while Tom Sparrow performed strongly in a scratch game last weekend after resuming from a collarbone injury.
However, coach Simon Goodwin on Friday ruled out Harmes as a selection option, saying the potential inclusions would come from Hibberd, Jackson, Sparrow and Mitch Hannan.
Hannan hasn't played at senior level since losing his spot after round 14.
"We certainly won't be making that many changes, but it's great to have some guys back available," Goodwin said.
"It's tough for spots and the boys performed really strongly last week (against Greater Western Sydney) in a pretty important game for the club.
"So we'll probably be more tempted to run with the group we ran with last week and make as minimal changes as possible."
The Demons' ideal scenario is for the Giants to beat St Kilda on Friday night and make a serious dent in the Saints' percentage, otherwise they're relying on Fremantle upsetting the Western Bulldogs.
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What's non-negotiable is they must defeat the out-of-sorts Bombers to have any hope of returning to the finals.
"Clearly, there are a few results of interest to us, but that's stuff we can't control," Goodwin said.
"We can only really look at how we perform tomorrow against the Bombers, and that's the No.1 thing we've been focusing on for a little while – what we can control.
"Some of our destiny is out of our hands, but a lot of it is within our hands as well."
As an interesting aside, former captain Nathan Jones this week told the club's Captain's Run podcast he was considering extending his career into next season, which could see him reach 300 games.
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"If I was to go on, my thinking would be around what I can still offer to the group," Jones said.
"I've had a tough year, really, with injury, in particular, but in saying that, I've probably learnt more than I ever have; just in really different ways of being able to influence and impact the group."
Jones is sidelined with a quadriceps issue and Goodwin said they were most focused on him recovering from that and being ready to play if Melbourne qualified for finals.
"We'll sit down with Nathan and have the appropriate conversations at the right time," Goodwin said.
"He's been an unbelievable person for the Melbourne footy club and someone we value really highly, so we'll sit down at that time.
"At the moment, Nathan's purely focused on getting himself right to continue on in the season and that's all our focus is with Nathan as well.
"That time will come when we sit down and have that chat. It'll be two parties sitting down and discussing what's best for not only Nathan but the Melbourne footy club."