MELBOURNE is planning for injured co-captain Jack Viney to still play a significant role in the club's push to end the competition's longest finals drought.
The midfield brute, the Demons' best clearance player, was a late scratching for Saturday's game after a scan a day earlier revealed signs of stress in the bone towards the toes on his right foot.
The positive news was the scan showed there was not a break.
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Viney missed the final two rounds of last year and did not play until round nine this season with the same problem, but coach Simon Goodwin is confident they have caught it early this time.
The 24-year-old discussed this year how Melbourne's collapse at the end of last season – with him watching on – and failure to play finals for an 11th straight campaign "burned pretty hard".
"It's a funny one. He was a little bit sore (on Friday), so we had a scan and there were some early signs of stress on that toe and really we didn't want to push him," Goodwin told reporters.
"We need to get that right. We don't want to get to a stage where he can't play.
"(The medical staff) will do a bit more assessment on Monday and Tuesday, but we need to de-load him.
"How long that takes – it might be a couple of weeks – we just have to wait and see, but we grabbed it early and didn't want to take a risk with it."
Goodwin said Melbourne's medical staff would look into why Viney continued to struggle with the injury and were keen to "make sure it's right".
The coach also praised his co-captain's ability to be a positive presence in the lead-up to the Demons' 50-point defeat of the Western Bulldogs despite his disappointing personal news.
"He's pretty positive about where it sits and clearly we'll do some more investigation into why it continues to flare," the coach said.
"I think that's a really important thing for us as a club to make sure that we really get on top of that – he's an important player for us, he's our skipper.
"He's obviously frustrated, but he's very optimistic in terms of where he's going and the impact he can still have (this year)."