JACK Viney, Nathan Jones and Jake Melksham will all play against Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday following injury-interrupted pre-seasons, coach Simon Goodwin has declared.
Melbourne is still finalising its round one line-up after Aaron vandenBerg and Joel Smith were ruled out through injury, but Goodwin said the additions of the experienced trio would provide a significant boost to the team.
"They had a really good hit-out in the VFL two weeks ago and they had another great match simulation last Friday so those guys are ready to go and I'm looking forward to seeing them perform," Goodwin said.
"Six weeks ago we targeted their program for round one and they could have played JLT two. They've done more load than anyone in the last four or five weeks."
Viney had off-season surgery on his ankle and after numerous injury issues in previous seasons, his program was managed carefully to ensure he would be ready to cope with the loads of playing a full season.
Both Jones and Melksham fell victim to hamstring complaints either side of Christmas and proved their fitness in a VFL practice match at Casey Fields against Brisbane a fortnight ago.
The three players took part in a testing training session, which included plenty of match simulation, at Casey Fields last Friday to get the tick of approval to play.
Goodwin said defenders Sam Frost, Harrison Petty and possible debutant Marty Hore would all be in the mix as the Demons workedout how best to cover for the suspended Steven May.
Meanwhile, Goodwin said he had sent former player Jesse Hogan a text message to wish him the best after a difficult week for the Fremantle recruit.
Hogan will be unavailable for selection for round one after breaching the club's rules around alcohol, with the Dockers revealing the former Demon had been dealing with ongoing clinical anxiety.
"I certainly feel that it's a very private matter for Jesse and it's a tough thing for him to go through," Goodwin said.
"We support him as a club. I've sent him a message, I know a lot of players have sent him a message and it's a real issue in our game and in society.
"We love Jesse, we want to see him healthy and we'll give him our support."
Goodwin said the issue of mental health continued to be a major concern for the AFL.
"Scrutiny and pressure aren't going anywhere. It's as live and as healthy as it's ever going to be – social media, the increase in media and even things such as (fantasy football). You might think it's stupid, but it's real," he said.
"It provides a lot of feedback to players and that provides a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress and our responsibility as an industry is to build the support mechanisms around players and secondly build a skillset where they can cope in that environment."