IF MELBOURNE is to take one positive from the break of play this season, it would be the opportunity its players have had to get their bodies right.

While it remains unclear when the next game will be, most of the boys who were on the injury list for Round 1 will be training with the main group after isolation is complete.

The likes of Joel Smith (quad), Braydon Preuss (knee), Kade Chandler (finger), Mitch Hannan (groin) and Harry Petty (groin) all faced setbacks during the pre-season, but are now back to full fitness, according to the club’s performance manager Darren Burgess.

“They’ve been on the full training program for a while now, so we expect them to train with the main group, so they won’t be an issue,” Burgess told Melbourne Media.

“I think with guys like Hannan and Petty, they’ve just been allowed to get a good volume of work in.

“There’s always a bit of a rush to try to get them right for Round 1, and when we knew that might be the only round for a while, then we could take the foot off the accelerator a little bit and allow them to get a really good training base, which they’ve got now.

“We’re hoping that serves them well for the whole year.”

The news is also positive for Melbourne rookie Harley Bennell, who has had a luckless run with calf injuries in recent years.

Although the former Docker and Sun might not be ready to play senior footy just yet, his body is in the best shape it has been in since he joined the club last December.

“He’ll certainly be ready to train with the group, but we have to be a bit cautious because it’s the first time he’s done footy training since June last year,” Burgess said.

“We’ll be taking it slowly with him, but he’ll certainly be training with the main group which will be exciting for the group to see because at this stage we haven’t seen that.

“Everyone’s looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Unfortunately, Aaron vandenBerg won’t be available for selection upon the season’s return after breaking his foot in the JLT Series clash with Hawthorn, but his recovery is on track.

While the 28-year-old missed the entire 2019 season with a foot injury, this is a separate incident which won’t impact him long-term, as he looks to up his workload in the coming weeks.

“He’s certainly running at top speed and he has been running for a few weeks now, he’ll just be a bit behind the other guys in terms of his footy specific stuff,” Burgess said.

“He’s probably 80 percent ready to go and he’ll certainly join in some skills when we’re back, but in terms of being ready for a game, he’s still a few weeks away from that.”

While Burgess hasn’t been able to have face-to-face contact with the playing group over the past two months, he has still been hard at work to ensure the Dees are in a position to play when they’re allowed to do so.

“I’ve been doing a whole range of different things like designing their programs – the running sessions and footy sessions that they’re doing in pairs – and just working with staff on other aspects of the program like the nutrition and gym stuff,” he said.

“And then just being there to answer any questions that the boys might have.

“With things like Zoom and Webex you spend more time in front of the computer than I’d normally like to, but the boys have been good.

“They’ve been training well and I have no doubt they’ll be in pretty good shape when we come back.”

Take a look at Melbourne’s full injury list prior to its return to training:

Injury List

Aaron vandenBerg

Foot | 4 weeks

Kade Kolodjashnij

Head | Indefinite

Aaron Nietschke

Knee | Season