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Melbourne Football Club

Salem and Stretch return for round 21

Christian Salem in action during the Melbourne Demons training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne on April 28, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Christian Salem in action during the Melbourne Demons training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne on April 28, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)

MELBOURNE has added five players to its squad for Sunday’s game against Carlton at the MCG.

Billy Stretch and Christian Salem have been named in the starting 18, while Ben Newton, Aidan Riley and Mark Jamar are listed on an extended interchange.

Neville Jetta will miss the game with a neck injury while Matt Jones has been omitted.

Salem, who was set to return last week but withdrew with illness, is set to play his first game since round seven.

The skillful defender had started his season strongly before he was sidelined with hamstring injuries.

Football operations manager Josh Mahoney said prior to his illness, Salem had earned his spot through strong VFL form.

“Christian was picked in the side last week after three good games in the VFL,” he told melbournefc.com.au.

“He unfortunately got ill before the game but he’s available for selection this week and he’s back into the side.”

Stretch was an emergency for last week’s game against the Western Bulldogs and returns to the team after two weeks at Casey.

One of five players in this week’s team to have debuted in 2015, Stretch has played eight AFL games in his first season.

“We’ve been very pleased with Billy’s year,” Mahoney said.

“He’s shown good performances at VFL level and at AFL level and last week performed very well in Casey’s loss against Williamstown and deserves another opportunity.

“We’ve also been pleased with the development of Alex Neal-Bullen, James Harmes, Angus Brayshaw and Jesse Hogan, who have all developed well in their first year of AFL and we’re looking for them to finish off the season strongly.”

Scans cleared Jetta of serious damage to his neck, but the small defender has been rested as a precautionary measure.

“Nev was cleared of any major damage in his neck but we still felt that we needed to take a cautious approach and he won’t be playing in this week’s game,” Mahoney said.

Newton has played eight games since crossing from Port Adelaide at the end of 2014, while Jamar and Riley have played five and four games respectively this season.

Melbourne will name its final team on Friday as it seeks its seventh win of the season.

Melbourne Squad: Round 21 v Carlton

B: Colin Garland, Lynden Dunn, Jeremy Howe
HB: Daniel Cross, Tom McDonald, Christian Salem
C: Billy Stretch, Bernie Vince, Heritier Lumumba
HF: Viv Michie, Chris Dawes, James Harmes
F: Jeff Garlett, Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Jack Viney

I/C (from): Angus Brayshaw, Ben Newton, Aidan Riley, Alex Neal-Bullen, Jack Grimes, Mark Jamar, Rohan Bail

In: Jamar, Riley, Newton, Salem, Stretch,

Out: Jetta (neck), M. Jones (omitted)