MELBOURNE has resisted the urge to recall co-captain Jack Viney for Saturday's clash against Gold Coast at the Gabba, with the star midfielder to instead make his return from a foot injury via the VFL.
Meanwhile, Christian Salem – who missed last week's 39-point win over St Kilda because of a broken thumb – will be available for selection against the Suns.
Viney has not played this season after an interrupted preparation due to the injury that flared late in 2017.
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Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin confirmed the tough onballer will play for the Casey Demons against Box Hill at Casey Fields on Sunday.
"Jack's tracking great and he'll play in the VFL," Goodwin said.
"It's obviously a slightly cautious approach for us. We want to make sure we finish off his rehab and his ability to get back to playing AFL right.
"We think the best form of doing that is at VFL level."
Goodwin said it was expected Viney would only have one week in the VFL before returning to the AFL side, almost certainly against Carlton in round nine.
The Demons coach said the match committee seriously considered bringing the midfielder straight back into the team this week.
"Obviously we did. We want to get him back playing in our AFL team, but we just think he's been out for nine months. We've certainly prepared him to play AFL footy," Goodwin said.
"But at the same time we think the best approach is to play him in the VFL and make sure he's 100 per cent ready to go.
Viney's foot problems stemmed from surgery he had to release the plantar fascia in his foot in July last year.
The 24-year-old developed a stress fracture in his right foot, experiencing soreness in his third toe, after he returned too quickly from the plantar fascia injury.
Viney had a restricted build up to 2018 in the pre-season, hardly training with the main group, and then suffered a setback on the eve of the season when he complained of pain through his big toe.
The 2016 best and fairest winner has not played since round 21 last season, but trained strongly at Gosch's Paddock on Wednesday.
Salem had surgery to repair the thumb he broke against Essendon in round six, but Goodwin said it is expected he will be right to play against the Suns in Brisbane.
"He trained fully today (Wednesday) so he's done everything possible, so he's definitely in the mix. We'll pick the team tonight but there's a good chance he'll be playing," Goodwin said.
Star forward Jesse Hogan left the track a little earlier than usual, but Goodwin said the in-form spearhead was under no injury cloud ahead of the Gold Coast game.
"It was just precaution. He did a great job to get up last week with that ankle (injury), so he's on a lighter load this week and he'll get himself right for the weekend," Goodwin said.