Key forward Tom McDonald has been ruled out of Melbourne’s intriguing AFL contest with Fremantle due to an ankle injury.
The premiership player will be replaced in the squad for Saturday’s match at the MCG by fellow tall goal-kicker Sam Weideman in another sign of the Demons’ depth.
Melbourne have been reluctant to play McDonald, Weideman and full-forward Ben Brown in the same team.
Weideman has spent the past three weeks on the sidelines after a quiet outing against Hawthorn in round seven.
The rampaging reigning premiers will face one of their sternest tests of the season as they look to continue their 17-game winning streak.
Fremantle were second on the ladder after round eight but have dropped their last two games in upset losses to Gold Coast and Collingwood to now be clinging onto fourth spot.
However, Demons coach Simon Goodwin is preparing for the Dockers’ best.
“They’re a good footy club; they’re a good team and they’ve played some outstanding footy,” Goodwin said.
“They’ve got some terrific system in how they play and we’re certainly preparing for their best.
“When anyone gets challenged, you expect a response, and that’s what we’re expecting from Fremantle.
“They’ve got some really talented players … our players have been really looking forward to this game especially.”
Melbourne will welcome back important midfielder Jack Viney after missing last week’s 47-point win against North Melbourne with a hamstring issue.
Star winger Ed Langdon will sit out the clash with his former club after suffering sore ribs following a big tackle from North’s Tarryn Thomas.
Fremantle will have to do without Sam Switkowski, who copped a two-game ban for his chicken-wing tackle on Collingwood’s Jack Ginnivan.
The Dockers decided against rushing back superstar captain Nat Fyfe for the big game against the Demons.
Fyfe, who has not played an AFL game since round 19 last year due to various injuries, is instead likely to return for next week’s home match against the Brisbane Lions.