Demon Viney won't return before AFL finals

Michael Ramsey

Melbourne co-captain Jack Viney is in a race against time to recover from injury, with the Demons ruling him out from returning before the AFL finals.

Viney has managed only seven games this season because of foot problems and the star midfielder hasn't played since round 16.

Coach Simon Goodwin says Viney is yet to resume running and won't play in the Demons' three remaining home-and-away games.

"We'll start re-loading him shortly," Goodwin said on Sunday after Melbourne's 96-point demolition of Gold Coast at the MCG.

"He won't be available unless we're fortunate enough to get through to the finals. His whole plan, his preparation will be around that.

"We'll just have to wait and see with that. He's in limbo for a little while. But our first thing is to get his foot right, get it re-loaded and get him prepared as best we can."

Viney had surgery to relieve plantar fasciitis in his right foot last year but has been dogged by complications, including a stress fracture in his big toe.

Melbourne's big win over the Suns has lifted them to fourth on the ladder with a superior percentage to all rivals bar ladder-leaders Richmond.

But the Demons have a tough run home with games against Sydney, West Coast and GWS.

Forward Jake Melksham (hamstring) is "50-50" for Sunday's clash with the Swans, while key defender Michael Hibberd (quad) has been ruled out for another week.

Goodwin said the Dees would examine their backline options after Joel Smith broke his collarbone when dumped in a tackle by Gold Coast's Sean Lemmens.

"He's headed to hospital already and he'll have surgery tonight," Goodwin said.

"It's a bit unknown ... anywhere between three and five weeks.

"We've got some guys that are obviously coming back from injury. Jayden Hunt played his first game (in the VFL) ... Cam Pedersen, we've repositioned him in the VFL as a key-position defender and he's played some outstanding footy.

"We've got some options so we'll have a look at that and make a decision later in the week."