JAKE LEVER has been cleared to return as Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin weighs up welcome selection headaches at both ends of the ground for the clash with Port Adelaide.
Therabody AFL All-Australian defender Lever ruptured a plantar fascia last month in a setback that ruled him out of the Demons' wins over the Western Bulldogs, Gold Coast and Essendon.
But the former Crows backman has recovered from the foot injury and is fit to take on Port at Adelaide Oval on Thursday night.
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Key forward Ben Brown is also available, having sat out last week through COVID-19 protocols.
Fringe player Joel Smith appears most likely to make way for Lever, who played every game in last year's premiership campaign and finished fifth in the Demons' best-and-fairest.
"Jake's ready to go," Goodwin said.
"That is a real challenge for us at match committee about who exits the team in this situation.
"Our back seven have held up really well.
"Adam Tomlinson, Joel Smith and Angus Brayshaw have been able to come into that back seven and perform really strongly for us."
Sam Weideman replaced late withdrawal Brown in round three and grabbed his chance against the Bombers, booting 4.3 in his first senior game of the season.
Tom McDonald kicked one goal from six disposals as ruck pair Max Gawn and Luke Jackson rotated through the forward line.
Goodwin is firm in his belief that playing three talls in attack is his best option.
"It is tight for spots and they're all performing really well," Goodwin said.
"Sam Weideman's been working incredibly hard on his game.
"He came in and performed incredibly strongly, which is great for our footy team, but it does give us a selection headache."
Goodwin allayed fears over Christian Petracca's fitness despite the gun onballer managing ongoing issues with knee swelling.
Petracca had just 21 disposals and two clearances against Essendon – down from his previous season averages of 39 and 7.5 – under close attention from Andrew McGrath.
"He does get a little bit of swelling in that knee over the last three or four years, so we'll just monitor that and make sure (we adjust) his training loads accordingly," Goodwin said.
"But his game was still really strong on the weekend.
"His role for the team and what he gave us around the contest, and our ability to maximise it if he has got some attention towards him, helps the team.
"He's in a good spot, he knows what he delivers and he's ready to go."