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Demons coach Goodwin defends May after staging fine

Steven May is "embarrassed" after being fined for staging but Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has lashed critics who labelled the star defender a "cheat".

May starred in the Demons' tense win over North Melbourne on Saturday night, but he came under fire over a third-quarter incident involving Kangaroos forward Eddie Ford.

The dual All-Australian was spun around more than 360 degrees in a tackle before going to ground, with May then pushing his own head into the turf and grabbed it as if he had been hurt.

AFL match review officer Michael Christian on Sunday pinged May for staging - a $1250 with fine an early plea, or risk copping a $1875 penalty if he challenges it.

Steven May.
Steven May remains on the turf holding his head after an Eddie Ford tackle. (Daniel Pockett/AAP PHOTOS)

Goodwin admitted he had spoken with May about the incident.

"I don't think he's the first player to ever try and get a free kick given to him, so clearly he's a bit embarrassed by the situation but I think some of the talk has been a bit much," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"For (News Corp journalist) Mark Robinson to come out and call him a cheat is a little bit much.

"If you know Steven's character and his competitiveness ... he plays the game to the highest level, and I think one of the things that's been missed from the weekend is his game on (star Kangaroos forward) Nick Larkey.

"Clearly, Steve was trying to get some delay in the game and a free kick.

"Clearly, it's an embarrassing situation when it gets called out for staging in the public forum.

"When you get called out (and receive a fine) like this, you're probably not going to do it (again)."

May could be re-joined in the Melbourne defence by Jake Lever, who has missed the last five weeks due to a concussion and a knee injury, for Friday night's clash with the rejuvenated Brisbane Lions at the Gabba.

"He's done all the match loads the last few weeks and he's done all the training possible, so it's just getting through (Tuesday's training) session and he'll be on the plane up to Brisbane," Goodwin said.

"It's going to be great to get one of our leaders back – he's a really important player to us and obviously helps the back half of the ground."

Goodwin expected Christian Salem to take on the Lions despite the defender being subbed out with a knee issue against North.