Lynden Dunn, Heritier Lumumba and Angus Brayshaw will all contend for selection in Melbourne’s round-two AFL clash with Essendon.
The Demons will shoot for a 2-0 start to the season and back-to-back wins on the MCG for the first time in five years on Saturday afternoon.
Supporting their case is a new-found depth on Melbourne’s list that makes coach Paul Roos’ time at the selection table more difficult.
At this stage of the campaign, Roos is picking the fittest players he’s got in the hunt for a competitive advantage.
“We made a really conscious decision to pick a fit and healthy team (against the Giants) and as it turned out it was a probably a good decision,” he said.
Roos suggested Dunn, Lumumba and Brayshaw, who suffered a knee injury in the NAB Challenge, were the names closest to cracking into a winning 22.
“The discussion is going to be around the fitness side of things again,” he said.
“At the moment we’re healthy, but those guys will certainly come into consideration. It becomes more about health and touch and (if) we feel like this week’s too early or not.”
“H (Lumumba) only came back to training five or six weeks ago.
“Dunny had that groin strain early in the (pre-season) game against the Bulldogs.”
There is likely to be a vacancy in Melbourne’s defence given Oscar McDonald’s ankle injury sustained against the Giants.
The 20-year-old had a low-key training session on Wednesday, with Dunn the most likely replacement for the youngster.
The emphasis on fitness is likely to keep Christian Petracca out of the side, especially given the interchange cap requiring an extra effort from all 22 players.
“There’s nowhere to hide on an AFL ground,” he said.
“The plan will stay the same and when we think he’s at a suitable level of fitness we start to judge him on his form, and what round he gets into the team will be determined by those two factors.”