Melbourne fans will get their first look at experienced recruits Jordan Lewis and Jake Melksham when the Demons open their pre-season competition campaign against the Western Bulldogs.
Lewis, a four-time premiership player with Hawthorn, made a shock switch at the end of last season, while former Essendon midfielder Melksham sat out his first year with his new club as he served a doping ban.
“It means a lot (to him) … he’s just dying to play footy again and wants to get back on the field with teammates and really enjoy the game again,” coach Simon Goodwin said of Melksham’s long-awaited return to the field.
“He’s done an incredible amount of work over the last six months to get himself in this position and I know he’s really excited about it.”
Fellow banned Bomber-turned Demon Michael Hibberd won’t play against the Bulldogs as he recovers from a knee injury.
Other notable absentees include Dom Tyson, Ben Kennedy and Dean Kent, but all are expected to be available to play in round one of the home-and-away season.
Saturday’s clash at Whitten Oval will mark the start of Goodwin’s tenure as senior coach after taking the reins from Paul Roos at the end of last season.
Goodwin is welcoming the higher expectations of Melbourne heading into the 2017 season.
“We’re confident and aspiring to play finals but we know we’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do to get into that position,” he said.
“We know that we’re still in a development and improvement phase to get our list to where we need to get to.
“There is an unknown to where we sit but we’re confident with the preparation that we’ve had and the amount of work we’ve been able to get into the group that we’ll be in a position to hit the season in good form.”