MELBOURNE will regain star onballer Clayton Oliver for Saturday night's massive clash with the Western Bulldogs.

Coach Simon Goodwin also expects defender Jake Lever to play after he hurt his shoulder in last week's win over Port Adelaide.

Oliver missed last week's win over Port Adelaide in Alice Springs because of surgery to fix a fractured thumb, but will return on Saturday night at Marvel Stadium.

MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list

"He's done an incredible job to get himself right. He's been in my office a fair bit in the last four or five days, telling me how he was going to be ready to go," Goodwin said.

Melbourne's Clayton Oliver nurses his thumb against Geelong, R17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"We're confident ... that (his thumb) will stand up for the rest of the season. He's done an incredible job with his rehab, he was really diligent.

"In the end, the freshen up last week is going to do him well.

The coach said Oliver's week off had provided an opportunity to experiment in the midfield.

"It gives us a chance to manage our team, have a look at some different things through the middle of the ground.

04:11 Mins
Published on

Footy Feed: Bevo bites, gun Dee returns, Tiger's plea

Sarah Olle with the latest footy news

Published on

"Now we get a chance to get a fresh Clayton Oliver back in our team, ready to go."

Lever hurt his shoulder against Port, but Goodwin is talking up his availability for the Bulldogs clash.

"He's been cleared of any significant damage, which is fantastic," he said.

"We'll just ease him through the week and he'll train on Friday ... we'll see where he sits at that point, but we're confident that he'll get up and play some good footy for us."

Port Adelaide's Todd Marshall closes in on Melbourne's Jake Lever in R18, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Goodwin added Ben Brown (knee) also should play against the Bulldogs.

The Demons look like they have put their mid-season stutter behind them with three wins from the past four games.

But after Saturday night's Grand Final rematch against the Western Bulldogs, their next four opponents before September are all in the top eight - Fremantle (away), Collingwood, Carlton and Brisbane.

LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?

The Bulldogs are also outside the eight on percentage only and are coming off a thumping win over St Kilda.

It means a searching test of the reigning premier's bona fides heading into the finals and Goodwin is relishing the challenge.

"The challenge is right before us as a footy club and we spoke about that last week," he said.

"It's now time to start putting our best footy out on the park consistently.

"They're going to tease the best out of our footy and we'll learn a lot about our group on that path.

'It's a perfect preparation for us."