MELBOURNE best and fairest winner Jack Viney and key defender Tom McDonald will not be in full training until after Christmas, following operations at the end of the season.
Viney, who won his first Keith 'Bluey' Truscott Memorial Trophy last week, has had an operation on his hip, while McDonald went under the knife to fix a shoulder problem that he carried through much of the 2016 season.
Cameron Pedersen (shoulder surgery) and Aaron vandenBerg (ankle surgery) are the others to have their return dates pushed back into 2017, preventing them from joining incoming coach Simon Goodwin for pre-season training in November.
Demons football manager Josh Mahoney told AFL.com.au the idea behind the players having surgery now was to ensure they have the best preparation ahead of the 2017 season.
"Jack was experiencing hip pain throughout the year and had an operation post-season," Mahoney said.
"The theory is the same with all of these players, so that we maximise their pre-seasons and we're confident the surgery that Jack's had will allow him to complete the majority of pre-season post-Christmas."
Mahoney said McDonald and Pedersen, who remains out of contract for next year, were always scheduled to go under the knife at the end of the season.
Both players had their shoulders wrapped in slings at the best and fairest count last Tuesday night, but Mahoney said the plan is for them to start running when the team returns to training in November.
They will, however, be restricted in the football drills they are able to complete until 2017 rolls around.
"The plan was for them to have operations post-season which they've both had within the first week of the season finishing," Mahoney said.
"Their pre-season will be delayed from a football training point of view until Christmas."
VandenBerg missed five weeks during the season after an ankle injury he sustained in the NAB Challenge flared up and was always pencilled in to have a clean up once the season had finished.
"Aaron had an incident with his left ankle in the pre-season which he was able to manage throughout the year by having some time off," Mahoney said.
"Again the plan was for him to have an operation to fix the problem at the end of the year and he has had that done."
Despite ongoing issues with concussion throughout 2016, Melbourne expects Heritier Lumumba to return to the club in November.
Eighteen Melbourne-listed players will continue to feature in the Casey Scorpions' finals campaign, according to Mahoney.
The Scorpions will take on Williamstown in a preliminary final at North Port Oval on Sunday.
"Overall the health of our list throughout the year was a positive and having 18 players continuing to play with Casey during the finals series puts us in a really strong position to attack our 2017 pre-season," Mahoney said.
Melbourne-listed players who have been in the AFL system for one-to-four years will return to training on Monday, November 17. Those who have been in the AFL system for five-plus years will return to training on Monday, November 21.