Unbeatable a fortnight ago, Melbourne are facing a mini mid-season AFL crisis as Tom McDonald deals with a potentially serious foot injury.
The premiership forward was a late withdrawal from Saturday night’s upset 12-point defeat against the Sydney Swans at the MCG.
McDonald pulled out because of ankle soreness but coach Simon Goodwin has revealed there are major concerns around his Lisfranc joint.
That type of foot injury usually rules players out for an extended period, with star Geelong defender Tom Stewart missing last year’s finals because of it.
“(McDonald) trained during the week and was still a bit sore,” Goodwin said.
“We’ve got to go away and look a bit deeper to that and find out the reasons why and have some scans early in the week.
“It’s something we’ve got to look at with the foot, he’s clearly still sore.”
The Demons’ loss against the Swans means it is the first time since 2020 they have gone down in consecutive games after last week’s defeat to Fremantle.
Ladder-leading Melbourne went into the round 11 contest with the Dockers on a 17-game winning streak and many experts already had them pencilled into hold up back-to-back premiership cups.
Goodwin is not panicking but knows there is plenty of work to do ahead of games against Collingwood and the Brisbane Lions.
“We had our standard chat, standard review, and it was pretty clear that it’s welcome to the AFL season – it’s a tough industry,” Goodwin said.
“We need to keep finding ways to get better as a footy club, it’s a long year, and just at the moment we’re not at our best but that doesn’t mean it’s going to last forever, either.
“We played a good side in the Swans, they played a good brand of footy and full credit to them.”
Much of the concern stems from key players being sore and others who are out-of-form.
All-Australian defender Steven May was badly missed against the Swans after sitting out due to the AFL’s 12-day concussion protocols.
Fellow backman Harrison Petty copped hits to his ankle and shoulder after entering the match with knee soreness.
Ben Brown struggled through his third-straight match goalless but Goodwin is backing the premiership hero to return to his best.
In a bold move, Melbourne preferred to recall veteran utility Mitch Brown over promising tall forward Sam Weideman when McDonald was ruled out.
“I don’t think anyone’s guaranteed a run in the AFL, everyone earns their position,” Goodwin said.
“There’s no doubt it’s competitive with our key forwards for spots.
“Ben’s not at his best at the moment but he’s a very good player. Our challenge as a coaching group is to get him back into form.
“(Weideman’s) got to keep working hard on his game, continually be working on playing a big man’s type of footy.
“He’ll have a good look at opportunities throughout the year but at the moment Mitch Brown is just playing better.”