Melbourne skipper Max Gawn is battling a broken bone is his toe with just three days to go before the Demons play a do-or-die AFL semi-final against Carlton on Friday night.
The superstar leader has been playing under duress for a number of weeks, according to multiple reports, but will play against the Blues regardless.
“Max Gawn will attempt to take on Carlton in a cut-throat semi-final on Friday night with a broken bone in his toe,” Sam Edmund said.
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“The break is near where the toe joins the foot.
“Clayton Oliver dealing with knee soreness, but both are expected to face the Blues.”
Without explicitly saying it, Goodwin all but confirmed both players’ injures.
“I can confirm that (Gawns is) going to train fully today, he and Clayton Oliver will train fully today, and be available to play,” the coach said on Tuesday morning.
“I think every player that plays has something that they’re dealing with at this stage of the year.
“This isn’t going to be something that will slow either of these two down.”
While both Oliver and Gawn will play, star young forward Jacob van Rooyen won’t after he was handed a one-match suspension for his hit on Collingwood’s Dan McStay.
His absence has created a headache for Goodwin’s coaching staff, who will weigh up a number of options to replace him — one of which could be out-of-favour ruck Brodie Grundy.
Midfielder Christian Petracca, for one, would happily welcome Grundy back as Melbourne seek a solution to their attacking woes, but says Gawn is too valuable to move out of the ruck.
“What (Gawn) is doing in the midfield and as a ruck is pretty special at the moment,” Petracca told reporters on Sunday.
“His game on the weekend was just incredible … we were pretty good in the clearances and around the ground in stoppages.
“Personally, I’d probably keep Max as a sole ruck.”
Gawn has relished the full-time ruck role since his partnership with Grundy was shelved in July, with the pair playing just one match together since round 17.
That was a month ago, when Melbourne lost to Carlton by four points.
Gawn and Grundy combined to give the Demons a 59-29 advantage in hit-outs that night against Blues pair Marc Pittonet and Tom De Koning.
“I don’t really care who gets picked as long as the best 22 are fit to play and want to compete,” Petracca said.
“Brodie’s been an amazing person throughout this past five or six weeks.
“It’s been difficult for him, as it would be for anyone, but his character has been amazing and he’s such a resilient person.”
Out-of-favour Josh Schache could also be considered for a recall while Ben Brown, who has not played an AFL match since round 19, has battled a knee issue and missed match simulation last week.
Melbourne recalled Tom McDonald for injured teammate Jake Melksham for last Thursday’s qualifying final against Collingwood and managed just seven goals from 69 forward entries.
The far more efficient Magpies won by seven points, kicking nine goals from 37 entries.
“Us midfielders need to get better at delivering the ball inside-50, rather than just blazing away and putting it on their heads,” Petracca said.
“But also, it’s finals footy. I watched a lot of the games this week and a lot of it was kick the ball forward, chaos-type footy.
“Every team in the top eight plays really good defence, so it’s not going to be perfect and pretty football like you see during the year.”
Carlton have won 10 of their past 11 games but have forward-line issues, with Harry McKay (concussion) unavailable and Jack Martin set to challenge a two-match striking ban.
“They’re a very good team and they play a great contested style of footy,” Petracca said.
“It’s going to be a tough game … but we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”
Melbourne premiership defender Michael Hibberd will retire at season’s end, after 13 years in the AFL.
The 33-year-old has played a total of 196 games, including 112 with the Demons after missing the 2016 season as one of the banned “Essendon 34”.
– With AAP