Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has dismissed concerns over captain Max Gawn’s fitness as he ponders how to get the Demons’ misfiring forward line functioning in their do-or-die AFL semi-final against Carlton.
There were reports on Tuesday morning that Gawn was nursing a broken toe in the wake of the qualifying final loss to Collingwood, while midfielder Clayton Oliver had knee soreness.
Gawn is clearly the Demons’ most important player and against the Magpies had 27 disposals, 10 clearances and 10 inside 50s.
If the star ruckman is hampered against Carlton on Friday, it would be a massive blow to Melbourne’s hopes of avoiding a second consecutive straight-sets finals exit.
Goodwin refused to confirm whether Gawn had a toe injury but said he and Oliver were all clear to face the Blues at the MCG on Friday.
“I can confirm he’s going to train fully today,” Goodwin said on Tuesday.
“Both he and Clayton will train fully today and be available.
“I think every player is carrying certain things at certain times of the year but this isn’t something that’s going to slow either of these two down.
“They had a light day the other day, but they’ll train fully today in preparation for the game.”
The Demons have accepted Jacob van Rooyen’s one-game suspension for striking, opening up a spot in their dysfunctional forward line, which is already without injured duo Harrison Petty and Jake Melksham.
That could involve a recall for ruckman Brodie Grundy against Blues duo Tom De Koning and Marc Pittonet.
“Well, look, nothing’s off the table,” Goodwin said.
Premiership tall Ben Brown, who has been in and out of favour, has recovered from a knee injury while former Bulldog Josh Schache is also in contention.
“Ben’s back – obviously had that knee for a couple of weeks. So he’ll train fully today,” Goodwin said.
“There’s nothing off the table at the moment from a selection perspective in our forward half.”
Goodwin was unhappy with poor ball movement, delivery inside 50 and goal kicking conversion against Collingwood but was confident those ongoing issues could be amended.
Between last year’s exit and winning the 2021 premiership in Western Australia, Melbourne haven’t won a final in their home city since 2018.
“We’re a club that will lean into the pressure,” Goodwin said.
“Pressure, stress, anxiety about performance, and playing well on the big stage is in all elite sport right now.
“Right now there’s six teams left that are all going to face pressure.
“There’s sudden-death stakes and we want to lean into that and be prepared for owning our time, owning our moment and staying in the now and our group spend a lot of time doing that.”