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Demons remain bullish despite fortnight from hell

By Roger Vaughan
Updated June 19 2024 - 7:40pm, first published 7:35pm
Demons coach Simon Goodwin is upbeat about his tean's prospects after a grim two weeks. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)
Demons coach Simon Goodwin is upbeat about his tean's prospects after a grim two weeks. (James Ross/AAP PHOTOS)

A fortnight from hell has done nothing to dim Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin's optimism about what is possible for the Demons this AFL season.

In the wake of a 92-point belting from Fremantle and the King's Birthday loss to Collingwood, star utility Christian Petracca is out for the rest of the season after surgery on his spleen.

But Goodwin is bullish coming out the bye.

"Obviously it was a great time to get away and re-set and get everyone out of the building," Goodwin said before Wednesday training.

"It's 7-6, we're right in the mix with a lot of teams ... we're very optimistic.

"As I said post-game (after Collingwood), there are things that we think are trending in the right direction ... and we feel like we have a lot to build off.

"But we sit in the mix with a lot of teams who have room for improvement about where they're going to finish. We feel like we're ready to go."

There will be no replacing the impact of Petracca, one of the league's most dynamic players.

Instead, Goodwin said the whole team must lift to cover his absence.

"Obviously he's a difficult player to replace. He has an enormous impact," he said.

"We move forward as a footy club - we're still really confident with the list we have, with the players we have available."

Asked if Clayton Oliver might be called to step in and fill Petracca's midfielder-forward role, Goodwin said: "nothing's off the table."

But he added Melbourne's fate would rest on more than Oliver and fellow star Jack Viney, two players who were not as their best against Collingwood.

"Not just Jack or Clayton or whoever you might be talking about, we need our whole team to collectively play to a higher standard and a higher level," Goodwin said.

Goodwin said defender Adam Tomlinson would return to play the Kangaroos, with the Demons coach expecting a big test.

"We expect the one we've seen in the last two weeks. They're a much-improved footy team, they're playing with enormous pressure and energy," he said of the Kangaroos.

"You can see how quickly they are improving."

Saturday night will also be Melbourne's Pink Lady match in partnership with Breast Cancer Network Australia.

Every Melbourne player's warm-up top this week features the name of a woman affected by breast cancer.

Each player also a received letter written by the woman he is honouring.

Australian Associated Press