WITH the Demons’ first competitive hit-out of 2021 just around the corner, the club’s in-season training program has begun.

Melbourne will meet Richmond in an unofficial practice match at Casey Fields on Friday morning, after the AAMI Community Series was condensed due to COVID-19.

This means the Dees are ready to transition into a different block of training, as Performance Manager Darren Burgess looks to prepare his side for Round 1.

And after a condensed pre-season, he is excited to see the boys in action.

“It’s a different one, we’ve had to sort of ramp into game style … earlier than we normally would have,” Burgess told Melbourne Media.

“But I think the players like it, I certainly like it – it’s more fun watching games than drills and running – so it’s going pretty well.

“[I’m] looking forward to the game this week, we’ll play Richmond, so that’ll be as good a test as any, really.”

While most teams would say they’re in good shape in February, Burgess is hoping the boys’ work prior to returning to the club will give them the edge.

“The key to this pre-season, and the off-season beforehand, was the amount of work that the boys did by themselves,” he said.

“Because they weren’t allowed to travel anywhere, they got together in groups – when they were allowed, of course – and did a lot of training by themselves.

“It meant that when we came back, we didn’t have to do as many kilometres just for the sake of it – they were all footy-based kilometres – so I’m really happy so far.”

Of course, there have been a few injury setbacks for the Demons, with key forward duo Ben Brown (knee) and Sam Weideman (femur) the major blows.

At this stage their exact return date is unclear, but Burgess expects them to commence a running program within the next two weeks.

Jake Melksham is another to go down on the track, but his hamstring injury is on the minor end.

Expected to miss just two weeks, the 29-year-old should have plenty of time to prepare himself for the season proper.

It’s good news for Angus Brayshaw, who is back into full training after having surgery on his foot last year, while Jack Viney is on track to play a practice match in the lead up to Round 1, despite having a minor operation last month.

Watch below as Burgess provides an update on all the injury news.

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Injury Update | Practice match preview

Darren Burgess provides an injury update prior to the club's first practice match of 2021

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