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Steven May, Jake Melksham available for selection, as Melbourne Demons look to Jackson in the ruck; Wil Power injury shakes Gold Coast Suns; Brayden Preuss suspended, Jack Gunston, Mitch Lewis to return

“Hey [May] is an outstanding player, and he will come back in. He has trained outstandingly well. He is really keen on building the trust back with the playing group and putting his best performances on-field and leading like he does on-field to a really high level.”

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Melksham is also available for selection, having overcome a hand infection as a result of the fight, but the Demons now begin a major stretch of up to five weeks without skipper Max Gawn (syndesmosis), leaving rising star Luke Jackson to shoulder a greater load in the ruck. Jackson, soon to be off-contract, can use this period to heighten his already lucrative value as a forward-ruck.

“It’s an enormous opportunity for Luke to really step up. We have seen what he is capable of in a range of different situations. To [have] that mantle of No.1 ruckman will be really important, [and] his ability to step up and do it a different way,” Goodwin said.

“Max is a pure tap ruckman, Luke is slightly different – he gives us a different look at ground level.”

West Coast Eagles great Peter Sumich said over the weekend he was of the understanding Fremantle had offered Perth-born Jackson a seven-year, $10.5 million deal.

Sam Weideman, who has played six matches this season, is another ruck option but fellow tall Majak Daw (pectoral tear) is a month away from resuming.

Luke Jackson, expected to entertain lucrative offers to head home to Perth, has a chance to step up as the Demons’ frontline ruckman against Brisbane.Credit:Getty Images

Goodwin used the Demons’ four days off over the bye break to clear his mind and go surfing at Double Island in Queensland – but it’s now back to business. While they sit second on the ladder (10-3 win-loss record), the Demons have slumped defensively, including in allowing opposition scores per inside 50, points against from turnovers and defending ball movement.

They have struggled to kick goals, going from fifth last season to 10th in the past six weeks for points for, and points from turnovers.

Key forward Ben Brown has only two goals in his past four matches, all coming against the Magpies, with Goodwin declaring Brown “is not too far away from being in some really good form”. The absence of Tom McDonald (foot) has also hurt the side.

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Even more damning has been the Demons’ drop-off in pressure, plunging from ranking third last year when they were ferocious around the ball, to 18th this season.

They have become stagnant in their ball use – they are ranked No.1 for kicking down the line and ranked No.18 for switching the ball across the ground. However, Goodwin denied this was an issue, declaring the team’s method “stacks up”.

Clayton Oliver has been superb in the midfield, but the Demons need greater consistency from Norm Smith medallist Christian Petracca.

Off the field, Melbourne have continued to back Goodwin, coming amid claims about his alleged behavior, including bullying, and the departure of club doctor Zeeshan Arain.

“The club put out a really strong statement about what they thought of all those claims. I know who I am. There are no behavioral issues on my behalf. For me, I haven’t really thought about it for the past 18 months,” Goodwin said.

“We have moved forward as a footy club. It is not a distraction from the players’ perspective and for me personally.”

In a statement released on Friday, the Demons said: “Separately, the board would also like to reiterate its support of the club’s people, particularly Simon Goodwin, who have been unfairly targeted as part of inaccurate and unsubstantiated media reports.”

It emerged in February that the Demons’ board had early last year broached the subject of firing Goodwin amid allegations of gambling, bullying, and other behavioral issues. This included Bartlett meeting AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan.

Bartlett has recently filed a writ in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, suing The Age and journalists Jake Niall and Caroline Wilson for defamation.

Horror injury leaves Wil Powell out for the count

Nell Geraets

The Suns’ claimed victory on Sunday night with a 43-point lead over Adelaide, but one injury cast a long shadow over the club’s initial strong lead.

Gold Coast defender Wil Powell suffered a horrific ankle injury to his right leg after colliding with Adelaide’s Ned McHenry halfway through the third quarter. The incident resulted in a five-minute delay as Powell boarded a medi-cab and was sent off the field.

The club remained uncertain of the severity of the injury, although head coach Stuart Dew felt it would result in Powell being sidelined.

“It’s clearly nasty, an ankle and leg,” Dew said.

“Generally, if the ankle does that … there could be a fracture in there as well.”

The club said the 22-year-old was sent for scans, but they were still unsure how long the recovery period would last.

“We’re thinking of him, and we’ll check on him as soon as we can,” he said.

Although none were as extreme as Powell’s stomach-turning incident, Gold Coast’s game was peppered with injuries, including a hamstring to defender Connor Budarick and a knee issue for forward Joel Jeffrey. Budarick will undergo scans on Monday while Jeffrey’s knee was deemed safe after he hobbled off the grass.

While the Suns secured the four points, Dew said his players were visibly shaken by the string of injuries, losing sight of their solid 36-point lead during the final quarter.

“For a little period there, emotionally, there was a little bit of an effect, and then they were able to settle,” Dew said.

“It’s only human that when a bad one [injury] like that happens, there’s a little period there where they’re on the back foot.”

Three strikes for Preuss: MRO hands down a third suspension

Nell Geraets

The Match Review Officer hit GWS ruckman Braydon Preuss with his third suspension of the year, making it almost certain that he will miss the Giants’ clash with Collingwood on Saturday.

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Preuss tackled Western Bulldog Tim English to the ground, causing his head to collide with the turf. The MRO labeled the tackle as careless conduct, medium impact, and high contact.

Preuss’ string of bans left him off the field during both pre-season and round four, with round 15 now also out of the picture. Magpie Brodie Grundy and Fremantle’s David Mundy were at the receiving end of Preuss’ earlier dangerous tackles.

Preuss is expected to miss round 15 due to an ankle injury. It is therefore unknown whether the Giants will challenge the tribunal’s decision and have until Monday to decide.

Preuss has only been with the Giants since 2020 after signing a three-year contract.

Elsewhere, in the MRO’s rulings, Sydney ruckman Peter Ladhams was issued a one-match suspension for punching his former teammate, Ollie Wines, in the ribs following a tackle. West Coast forward Willie Rioli will have to pay $2000 as punishment for striking Geelong’s Sam De Koning.

Gunston, Lewis in line to face Bulldogs

Jon Pierik

Emerging forward Mitch Lewis and veteran sharpshooter Jack Gunston are in line to return for Hawthorn in Friday night’s clash against the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Coach Sam Mitchell said on Monday Lewis and Gunston, having missed the clash against Fremantle leading into the mid-season bye, were ready to resume.

Gunston has had ankle issues but trained on Monday, while Lewis dealt with knee swelling after booting four goals against Collingwood. Lewis has a team-high 27 goals and is playing himself into a lucrative contract extension.

Forward Mitch Lewis has overcome knee swelling and is likely to return against the Western Bulldogs.

Forward Mitch Lewis has overcome knee swelling and is likely to return against the Western Bulldogs. Credit:Getty Images Asia-Pacific

“He had swelling in the knee. [It’s] risky when you’re a 100-kilogram guy flying across the country to play. Having the two weeks off will be good for him and good to refresh and come back in for the last nine rounds,” Mitchell said.

Ruckman Max Lynch remains in concussion protocols, following an incident against Brisbane in round 10, while Josh Ward, the No.7 selection in last year’s national draft, must also clear protocols to return. He was hurt in the VFL in May.

Skipper Ben McEvoy is training without a neck brace but hasn’t yet been given the all clear to resume playing. Midfielder James Worpel has impressed in the VFL and will be considered for a senior recall for the first time since round nine, while a replacement is needed for injured key defender Sam Frost.

The Hawks slipped to a 4-9 win-loss record before their mid-season bye but have the ability to shape the top eight in the run home to the finals.

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