MELBOURNE forward Aaron vandenBerg will miss the start of the home and away season after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his heel.
The powerful forward will be sidelined for up to six weeks with the injury after he went in for scans at the weekend.
Versatile defender Sam Frost is another in extreme doubt for the club's round one clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium due to a toe injury, while Dean Kent (back) is racing to prove his fitness for the match.
Demons football manager Josh Mahoney said vandenBerg would not require surgery, although Melbourne will be vigilant with his recovery process.
"Aaron presented with a sore heel over the weekend," Mahoney told AFL.com.au.
"Investigations have shown that he has the early stages of a stress fracture.
"We're taking the opportunity to get on top of that as early as we can. He'll have a couple of weeks of 'de-loading' and we'll gradually build him up.
"At this stage we're looking at a timeline of four-to-six weeks until he's ready to return to play."
Mahoney said Frost felt soreness in his toe, an injury that forced him to miss a month of football in 2015, after the Demons' intraclub match at Olympic Park Oval on February 10.
Frost, who played 16 games in 2016 but is yet to appear in the pre-season series, has been in the rehab group for the past three weeks.
"We took the opportunity to de-load him and he's built himself up over the last few weeks," Mahoney said.
"Frosty's progressing really well and we expect him to be back available in the next two to three weeks."
Mahoney said livewire forward Jeff Garlett was progressing steadily in his recovery from a hamstring injury and is pushing to be available for the opening round of the season.
"We expect him to be available to play in a practice match for Casey potentially next week and all things going well he'll come into contention for round one," Mahoney said.
Meanwhile, Neville Jetta is now available for selection after overcoming a quad issue, while Kent (back) will be ready to play either next week or the week after in a VFL practice match.
Jetta was not picked for Thursday night's game against West Coast, but will take the field in a Casey Demons intraclub game at Casey Fields on Friday night.
There will up to 12 senior-listed Demons players running around in that game as the club looks to prepare underdone players for the season ahead.
"'Jetts' has been in full training now for a couple of weeks and it's got to the stage where he's available to play," Mahoney said.
"At this stage, we've got a lot of players who are up and going and have had full pre-seasons but he'll play in an intraclub this week and look to play the following week as well."