MELBOURNE will be without premiership defender Christian Salem for up to eight weeks after he underwent surgery on chipped cartilage in his knee.
Salem was injured in a tackle by Marcus Bontempelli in last Wednesday night's season opener against the Western Bulldogs and was substituted out of the game in the first quarter.
The Demons were already missing four of their back six from the 2021 Grand Final win over the Bulldogs - Harrison Petty (calf), Michael Hibberd (calf), Jake Lever (foot) and Trent Rivers (knee) - and Salem's injury forced key forward Tom McDonald to reprise his early-career role in defence.
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Rivers is the most likely to replace Salem for Saturday night's clash against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium. The third-year dasher, who is recovering from a PCL strain, faces a fitness test ahead of the trip north.
Lever, who was named to face the Bulldogs in round one but withdrew from the game a hour before the bounce, is also a chance to return having torn his troublesome plantar fascia, while Hibberd also faces a test on his calf.
Petty is still recovering from surgery on a badly corked calf and remains up to a month away from a playing return, while defender Daniel Turner has been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot.