ALL-AUSTRALIAN defender Jake Lever is still sidelined but premiership teammate Trent Rivers is set to return to bolster Melbourne's injury-hit backline in the Saturday night's clash with Gold Coast.
Lever (foot) and Rivers (knee) were among the flag-winning Demons defenders missing from the season-opener last week, with Michael Hibberd (calf) and Harrison Petty (calf) also out of action.
Christian Salem's knee injury was a further blow during the win over the Western Bulldogs and will keep him sidelined for at least six weeks.
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But reinforcements are coming, with coach Simon Goodwin declaring dashing third-year backman Rivers simply had to get through Wednesday's training session to be given the green light.
"He's done a power of work in terms of his rehabilitation," Goodwin said on Wednesday morning.
"He missed the one game of footy and we're really hopeful that he'll come back in and perform really strongly for us.
"We know what he's capable of and he fits that need for us across the half-back line."
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Melbourne will take a cautious approach with Lever, who has ruptured the plantar fascia in a foot.
"He's still a little bit sore in that foot," Goodwin said.
"It's a good thing the plantar fascia's torn but we need to make sure he's right to go.
"He won't play this week and we'll make sure we mend him the right way."
Goodwin was pleased with how his makeshift defence stood up against the Bulldogs, praising versatile duo Tom McDonald and Angus Brayshaw after they were sent back to help out.
Joel Smith, Adam Tomlinson and Jayden Hunt all played defensive roles in round one after missing out on last year's premiership.
"We're going to ask a lot of them in the next four or five weeks to actually step up and perform well as a group," Goodwin said.
"That's one of our challenges and one we're looking forward to."