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Clayton Oliver takes extended leave amid Melbourne Demons pre-season drama

The Melbourne Demons star was not at training on Thursday.

Melbourne Demons have confirmed Clayton Oliver (pictured left) won't be returning to training and will take extended leave. (Getty Images)
Melbourne Demons have confirmed Clayton Oliver (pictured left) won't be returning to training and will take extended leave. (Getty Images)

The Melbourne Demons have confirmed Clayton Oliver won't be returning to training and will take extended leave for personal reasons. The four-time club best and fairest has been facing media scrutiny in recent months with his off-field behaviour coming into question as he battles injuries and medical issues.

And when his teammates returned to training on Thursday at Lorne, Oliver was not to be seen. And the club's head of general performance confirmed Oliver would be taking time away from training.

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"Clayton has personal issues that he has been dealing with," football boss Alan Richardson said in a statement. "Clayton has been working extremely closely with his personal medical team, and with the support of key club staff, in order to manage these challenges.

"The club fully supports Clayton taking this important time out, which will allow him to focus on these challenges. Our primary focus is Clayton's overall wellbeing, and we will continue to support him through this period. It's important for Clayton that we respect his privacy and his need for time and space."

Last month, Melbourne Demons CEO Gary Pert said the club's four-time best-and-fairest winner was "in a great headspace" and "100 per cent" committed to the club and its preparations ahead of the new season. "He wants to be part of something really special," Pert said about Oliver. However, it appears Oliver needs more time away.

One of the game's best players only played 15 games last season due to a hamstring injury that hampered his season before finals footy. When he returned, the Demons were eliminated for second consecutive season in straight-sets. Oliver was then at the centre of trade speculation with Adelaide clubs interested in bringing him over. However, the Demons stuck by Oliver having signed the star until 2030.

Melbourne's culture at the club has come under fire in recent months with a number of off-field drama rocking the club. However, coach Simon Goodwin has been adamant the club is heading in the right direction. And in a pointed message at the club's awards night he appeared to take a hard line stance after claiming Melbourne would be 'uncompromising' in their dedication to creating a team environment.

“One thing that has enabled us to keep showing up is our culture,” Goodwin said. "A culture that has been built over a period of time and is the piece that we will be uncompromising in maintaining and building further to achieve the ultimate success."

Clayton Oliver looks on during a game.
Clayton Oliver (pictured left) did not return to Demons training and will take leave. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images) (Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Max Gawn opens up on Clayton Oliver

Captain Max Gawn and his wife Jessica have provided support to Oliver through the difficult off-season, taking the troubled Demon into their home in October when Jessica was heavily pregnant. The Melbourne captain says he continues to provide support to the 26-year-old, stating he is regularly in touch with Oliver.

"I still regularly speak to Clarry," Gawn said. "He has his ups and downs, but I'm just excited for him to get back training, get amongst us guys, and hopefully we get a good version of his this year."

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