Demon depth to test – CXCnews

Melbourne defender Christian Salem is confident the Demons have enough depth to cover Clayton Oliver, while the star midfielder is sidelined with a broken thumb.

Oliver suffered the injury when he was accidentally kicked by Joel Selwood of Geelong in Thursday’s 28-point loss against the Cats.

The 24-year-old has since had surgery and is likely to miss Sunday’s game against Port Adelaide in Alice Springs before returning next week to face the Western Bulldogs.

Oliver is one of the favorites to win this year’s Brownlow Medal, and he will be sorely missed against Port at a time when the Demons are trying to stop a worrying slump.

But Salem is confident in the depth of the team.

“He (Oliver) is incredible. He’s getting better every week,” Salem said.

“If he misses, the good thing for us is that we have a lot of guys in the VFL who are AFL ready. I’m sure someone will raise their hand.

“There’s Luke Dunstan (and Jake) Melksham. It just kind of depends on the balance the coaches want to achieve.”

Melksham has played just three AFL games this season, the last being in Round 11.

The 30-year-old made headlines in June when he punched teammate Steven May after the premiership defender reportedly made a major final slur.

Melksham injured his hand in the incident and had to undergo surgery, while May was given a one-game suspension from the club for drinking alcohol while recovering from a concussion.

Melbourne (12-4) is just a percentage adrift of the ladder-leading Cats, despite losing four of their last six games.

The Demons averaged just 74.5 points per game over that stretch, which represents a significant drop in score output compared to the first 10 rounds (93.7).

Salem thinks it’s wrong to blame the attackers.

“It’s a very collective,” Salem said.

“It’s not just the attackers’ responsibility, it’s the backs and the mids who deliver it within 50 yards.

“We are going to work on that. We have a longer week in training this week.

“It’s something we’ve tinkered with, and it’s probably only a matter of time before it changes for us.”

Salem missed 11 weeks earlier this season with a knee injury and the premiership defender says he is still trying to get back into shape.

“I’m not at the level I want to be at the moment in terms of output for the team,” he said.

“But I think that’s kind of expected when you’re out of the running for three and a few months. I’m trying to slowly build up again this week.”