AARON vandenBerg will play his first AFL match in almost two years, after he was named in the starting 18 for Melbourne’s clash against the Gold Coast Suns at the MCG on Sunday.
vandenBerg, who has had a wretched run with a heel/ankle injury, is one of five inclusions for Melbourne’s round 20 squad.
The only player out, at this stage, is forward Jake Melksham, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. But he is a chance to return for Melbourne’s round 21 clash against the Sydney Swans at the MCG.
Goalkicker Dean Kent, versatile tall Cam Pedersen, speedster Jayden Hunt and key forward Tim Smith have also been named in Melbourne’s squad.
They have been named on the extended interchange, along with Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo, Alex Neal-Bullen and Joel Smith, who all played in Melbourne’s 13-point win over the Adelaide Crows at Adelaide Oval last round.
For vandenBerg, it will be his first AFL match since Melbourne’s loss to Geelong at the Cattery in round 23, 2016.
After playing in two JLT Community Series matches last year, vandenBerg missed the rest of the season with a heel/ankle injury.
He made his return this year via Casey Demons – in the round 16 AFL equivalent – playing three matches, before he was a travelling emergency for Melbourne last weekend.
Now, vandenBerg will play his 29th AFL game since making his AFL debut against Gold Coast Suns at the MCG in round one, 2015.
Melbourne is aiming for its 12th win of the season – and its second against the Suns, after it beat Gold Coast by 69 points at the Gabba in round eight this year.
Bernie Vince will play his 100th game for Melbourne – and become the 45th player in VFL/AFL history to reach the ton with two AFL clubs.
And Nathan Jones will join Steven Febey on 258 games for Melbourne, drawing him equal fifth for the most VFL/AFL games for the club.
Melbourne squad: round 20
B: Bernie Vince, Sam Frost, Neville Jetta
HB: Christian Salem, Oscar McDonald, Jordan Lewis
C: Dom Tyson, Clayton Oliver, James Harmes
HF: Aaron vandenBerg, Jesse Hogan, Bayley Fritsch
F: Jeff Garlett, Tom McDonald, Jay Kennedy Harris
Foll: Max Gawn, Nathan Jones, Angus Brayshaw
I/C (from): Christian Petracca, Charlie Spargo, Dean Kent, Cameron Pedersen, Jayden Hunt, Alex Neal-Bullen, Tim Smith, Joel Smith
In: Aaron vandenBerg, Dean Kent, Cameron Pedersen, Jayden Hunt, Tim Smith
Out: Jake Melksham (hamstring)