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Demons prepared for Gather Round battle with Adelaide

Melbourne forward Alex Neal-Bullen expects a tough scrap in the blockbuster AFL Gather Round opener against under-fire Adelaide.

The Crows have their backs to the wall after a 0-3 start in a year when they were widely tipped to play finals for the first time under Matthew Nicks.

Another loss to in-form Melbourne at a sold-out Adelaide Oval on Thursday night could be disastrous for their top-eight hopes amid a growing list of injury setbacks.

But the Demons won't be lulled into a false sense security by their opposition's early-season woes.

Crows
The Crows will be out to bounce back after the loss to Fremantle, their third straight defeat. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

"No matter how they've been going previously, every time you play the Crows at Adelaide Oval they're going to bring the heat," Neal-Bullen said.

"They bring the contest and that's what we expect. We can't wait for it.

"We know that the Crows are going to be at their best, so we've got to be on from the start."

Melbourne (3-1) extended their winning streak to three matches with a tough seven-point win over Port Adelaide last Saturday night and have stayed in the South Australian capital to prepare for the Crows clash.

SA product Neal-Bullen feels the tighter Adelaide Oval playing arena suits the Demons, who boast an 11-7 record at the venue that includes a 5-2 head-to-head record with the Crows.

"Every time we come to Adelaide Oval, whether it's Port Adelaide or the Crows, it's a highly-contested game," Neal-Bullen said.

"It's a smaller boundary compared to our home deck at the MCG, so it's a great challenge."

Tough midfielder Jack Viney trained away from Melbourne teammates on Wednesday as a precaution because of illness but has been named in the Demons' squad to face the Crows.

Jack Viney
Jack Viney trained separately due to illness. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

All-Australian backman Steven May returns in place of injured teammate Marty Hore (fractured thumb), following a one-match absence because of broken ribs.

Neal-Bullen said May earned the trust of teammates when he made the call to play through a hamstring injury in the 2021 grand final.

"If you take the field you've got to be ready to and give a great contest, and big Maysie will no doubt do that," Neal-Bullen said.

"He's been in this position before and players each week are in these positions where you've got a little niggly injury.

"It's ultimately up to the player to make the right decision there."

Adelaide have made five changes from last week's defeat to Fremantle.

Luke Pedlar, Lachlan Sholl and James Borlase have been axed, while Wayne Milera and Lachlan Murphy are out because of knee injuries.

The Crows recalled Jordon Butts and Sam Berry, while Patrick Parnell, Brayden Cook and Luke Nankervis have been picked for the first time this season.