Dees fire up in AFL scratch match

Shayne Hope
Neville Jetta and Charlie Spargo wrestle during a Melbourne Demons intra-club match at the MCG

Melbourne players released their pent-up frustration on each other during a heated intra-club match that was held in place of Sunday's postponed AFL fixture against Essendon.

The two clubs had been due to meet in a round three clash at the MCG before Bombers defender Conor McKenna returned a positive COVID-19 result on Saturday.

Instead, the Demons hastily arranged a full-scale 40-player practice match behind closed doors at the home of football in preparation for next Sunday's meeting with Geelong.

Former skipper Nathan Jones was one of three players dropped from the Melbourne team to face Essendon and was among those mounting cases for recalls to the senior side.

"It was pretty competitive," captain Max Gawn said.

"Obviously we've got 40 guys that are out there and some relatively big names that have missed the 22 from this week.

"Nathan Jones, Michael Hibberd and these sort of guys were trying to get back in.

"It was nice and hot. The umpires actually had to step in a few times just to tell us to back off and that it's only a practice match, which was fair enough."

The postponed Essendon-Melbourne match will likely force a fixture squeeze later in the season and see clubs play matches off shorter breaks than usual.

But shorter quarters are in play this season as a safeguard against unexpected scheduling issues during the coronavirus pandemic and Gawn feels they will help players get through a heavier workload.

"We all knew when this AFL season was getting up and going that this was probably going to come at some point," Gawn said.

"I'm someone who would rather play than train, so I'm looking forward to potentially a mid-week fixture.

"I was very, very frustrated about 4pm (Saturday), as were about 50,000 Melbourne fans and the rest of the players, but it is what it is."

McKenna's attendance at an open house inspection is reportedly at the centre of an AFL investigation to determine how the Irish defender, who is asymptomatic, contracted the virus.

The 24-year-old faces a suspension if he is found to have broken strict protocols to attend the inspection.

Gawn feels for McKenna and believes the focus should be on the player's health and wellbeing.

"My thoughts go out to Conor," Gawn said.

Melbourne players Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett were suspended for protocol breaches prior to the season restart this month.

Pickett was picked to return against Essendon after serving his one-match ban and the Demons are hopeful Spargo will now qualify as having served his two-match sentence.

Melbourne football manager Josh Mahoney said the club will seek clarity from the AFL on the matter.