MELBOURNE will welcome back vice-captain Jack Viney as the ladder-leaders aim to regain its winning edge against Essendon.
The hard-nosed midfielder hasn't played since round six as the Demons took a patient approach to a foot injury.
Melbourne is 11-2 but entered the bye on a low note with a loss to Collingwood and coach Simon Goodwin backed Viney to add the grit needed to help get the Demons back to their combative best on Saturday.
"There's always going to be periods in the season when you're not at your best," Goodwin said.
"You've got to find ways to continually improve but the things that we really value, Jack brings in spades.
"He brings a real hardness and competitiveness to our playing group and a toughness around the footy that's really important to the way we defend so having him back's a great lift for us.
"It's been six or seven weeks now where he's been out of the side, and we have missed him and it's going to be great to get him back."
Goodwin said the disappointing loss to the Magpies had put the Demons back on "edge".
"Obviously losing going into the break, they've come back and there's real hunger about them," he said.
"But there's a (hungriness) about the group and that's what's got to remain."
The Demons are still uncertain on their best forward-line mix.
Sam Weideman has kicked just three goals in his five games while recruit Ben Brown is waiting in the wings, having played just three games - with a lack of VFL action hurting his ability to press his case.
Goodwin said Brown and Weideman - who both had pre-season injuries - were looking better every week but he was yet to decide which of them would face the Bombers.
"We've scored playing with three talls, we've scored playing with two talls and we sit here not 100 per cent sure what the best mix is yet and I think that's good," Goodwin said.
"It's competitive for spots, both from a personnel perspective but also making sure our method's right, with that type of personnel."