MELBOURNE midfielder Harley Bennell won’t play in his side’s clash with Port Adelaide on Thursday night.
Demons coach Simon Goodwin confirmed the news on Wednesday afternoon, with the decision based on Bennell’s continued load management.
“We said we weren’t going to manage our players, but we’re certainly not going to be reckless,” Goodwin said in his weekly press conference.
“One of those decisions is not to play Harley Bennell. He won’t be selected – he’ll be managed this week.”
Bennell has featured in the past three matches for the Demons, but as they prepare for the next phase of their fixture, Goodwin said a cautious approach was necessary.
“Harley’s done an incredible job to get his body to a position where he can play consistent AFL footy, but we just feel with a four-day break, it was a risk we didn’t want to take.
“He’ll be the only player that will be managed in that space.”
In other selection news, Tom McDonald may get another shot at senior level, having impressed in a scratch match over the weekend.
The 27-year-old was a big contributor kicking four goals, and is certainly pushing his case for a return.
“He’s a chance,” Goodwin said.
“We’re pretty happy with how the balance of the team’s looking and we’re pretty comfortable with where we’re sitting in terms of how we’re playing, [although] we didn’t get the result.
“It’s really a decision of whether we play with two talls, with Jackson and Weideman, or we put a third in there as well.
“That’s a decision we’ll make after training this afternoon, but Tom pushed his case really strong last week.
“It gives us some options and something to really discuss.”
Thursday night’s match with the ladder leaders will continue a big month of footy for Melbourne, as it plays five games in as little as three weeks.
But having anticipated such fixturing in the whirlwind that is the 2020 season, Goodwin is confident his players are up to it.
“We prepared ourselves through the pre-season and also through the COVID shutdown – we put our guys on a four-day [training] cycle,” he said.
“They’ve pulled up well, they’re ready to go and they’re looking forward to the challenge.”