MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin has delivered a whack to recruit Steven May, criticising his fitness levels at the start of pre-season.
Key defender May crossed from Gold Coast during the 2018 NAB AFL Trade Period and is expected to be sidelined for a further two weeks with a groin complaint.
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He missed round one due to suspension, played round two but was out for Friday night's 18-point loss to Essendon with his injury.
"I certainly wasn't let down, I felt we always knew we had work to do with Steven. He walked in and he certainly knew he had a bit of work to do, based on the standard that we had as a footy club," Goodwin told SEN.
"He's worked incredibly hard from that point where he walked in to actually get himself into some really good shape. I'm probably disappointed for him, because he's put the work in and now has these niggles to go with it.
"He'll get his rewards if he keeps working hard and stays in good shape. But he certainly won't be coming back to pre-season in that nick again, that's for sure."
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Asked if he was shocked with Melbourne's winless start to the season (after making a preliminary final last year), Goodwin said it was the nature of the game.
"Ultimately, you are (shocked). You work hard all summer and you try and prepare you team the best you can, but that's the reality of footy sometimes," he said.
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"It's a tough industry and there's going to be periods of the year and periods of the season where you are going to be out of form. We need to work through that as a footy club and find the best footy and that's what we'll continue to strive to do."
Goodwin said connection had been an issue across all three lines, especially after an injury-interrupted summer.
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Demons sidelined for parts of pre-season include Clayton Oliver (surgery on both shoulders), co-captains Nathan Jones (hamstring/back tightness) and Jack Viney (foot/ankle), key back Jake Lever (knee reconstruction), Christian Petracca (knee) and Jake Melksham and May (hamstrings).
"Every single one of our midfielders was in rehab for the majority of the pre-season, so we're still working hard at training, trying to build that chemistry back with our rucks and our inside mids," Goodwin said.
"We are actually winning our fair share of clearances, but we're not scoring enough on the back of those. When we're losing our clearances, we're getting scored heavily against down the other. Our ability to defend from clearances is poor at the moment, that's from our inside mids and guys around the footy, but also our defenders needing to win one-on-ones for us.
"We're certainly not functioning in sync at the moment across all lines of our defence, and that's putting enormous pressure on our back half and we're struggling to win the contest there as well.
"It's just not functioning the way we'd like, and that's why we're easy to play against and easy to score against."