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Demons stars out of Tigers AFL clash

Melbourne have been dealt a massive blow ahead of their clash with Richmond with premiership stars Jack Viney and Jake Lever ruled out through COVID-19 protocols.

The Demons will attempt to extend their unbeaten start to the AFL season to six games on Sunday but face a tough task covering for hard-nosed midfielder Viney and interceptor Lever.

Joel Smith and Ben Brown have been named in the 22 while Adam Tomlinson and former Saint Luke Dunstan are on the extended bench.

The Tigers have lost Marlion Pickett and Hugo Ralphsmith to injury but Josh Gibcus will be among their inclusions.

Elsewhere, Carlton captain Patrick Cripps, Port Adelaide’s Brownlow Medallist Ollie Wines, Sydney star Lance Franklin and Essendon duo Jake Stringer and Zach Merrett are among the big inclusions for round six.

But the Western Bulldogs will be without gun ruckman Tim English against Adelaide after he suffered a hamstring injury at training.

It opens the door for Stefan Martin to play his 200th game.

Lachie Hunter and Mitch Wallis both miss through personal reasons.

Meanwhile, Toby Greene will captain GWS in his first match of the season, against St Kilda in Canberra on Friday night, after serving his six-match ban for intentional umpire contact.

The explosive forward is one of three inclusions with Isaac Cumming and Braydon Preuss, who will form a ruck duo with Matt Flynn against Saints pair Paddy Ryder and Rowan Marshall.

But GWS have left out Jesse Hogan as they manage the key forward’s workloads after an interrupted summer.

Greene will skipper the Giants for the first time since being elevated to co-captain alongside Josh Kelly and Stephen Coniglio, who will both play against the Saints.

“Toby has taken responsibility for his actions and worked really hard over the past six weeks to get back and wants to make an impact,” GWS coach Leon Cameron said.

Port vice-captain Wines is available to return a little more than two weeks after a spontaneous heart irregularity emerged.

The issue has resolved itself and Wines’ inclusion is a boost for the Power as they chase their first win of the season against West Coast on Saturday, while Karl Amon is among three players dropped.

Essendon have named Merrett and Stringer to make earlier-than-expected returns on Anzac Day, though both will remain under injury clouds, while Collingwood have dropped Mason Cox.

Hawthorn have named Chad Wingard and Will Day to return from injury and concussion respectively on Monday against Sydney, who regain Franklin after a broken finger.

North Melbourne will regain Tarryn Thomas against Geelong but Jaidyn Stephenson is out through illness.

Mitch Robinson (calf) will miss Brisbane’s clash with Gold Coast.

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