MELBOURNE premiership defender Trent Rivers is racing the clock to be available for round one after the club revealed he suffered a knee injury during the practice match against North Melbourne last week at Casey Fields.
Rivers played the game out, but follow-up imaging showed he has a low-grade PCL strain that will sideline him for 3-4 weeks.
AFL'S 50 MVPs Cal Twomey makes the call
Melbourne's opening round against the Western Bulldogs is exactly three weeks after the injury occurred.
Rivers is one of a handful of Demons defenders carrying niggles, although the club says the rest are on the minor side.
Therabody AFL All-Australian full-back Steven May and veteran defender Michael Hibberd have "a little bit of tightness" – as described by the club's performance manager Selwyn Griffith – and will miss Thursday's AAMI Community Series match against Carlton.
WATCH THE GAME LIVE Click here to secure your tickets
But the club is adamant both will play in round one.
Christian Salem (knee) will also miss against the Blues but is expected to be fine for the season-opener. Salem had an incident at the end of the practice match where a North Melbourne player fell across his knee.
Harrison Petty is a little further away though following surgical intervention on a corked calf.
"He is progressing well and has integrated into running," Griffith said.
PLAY AFL FANTASY Pick your team NOW
"He’ll look to return to performance in the next 3-4 weeks."