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. 

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Big blow for Melbourne with Salem hurt

The Demons suffer a worrying injury concern with Christian Salem out of the game after being collected in this Bontempelli tackle

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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.