Demons star Oliver ruled out of AFL match

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Melbourne superstar Clayton Oliver will make the trip to Alice Springs but has already been ruled out of playing against Port Adelaide on Sunday.

The three-time Demons best-and-fairest had surgery on a thumb he fractured in the 28-point loss against Geelong last Thursday night.

Oliver has been pushing hard to line-up in the crucial clash with the Power but the Demons will not take any risks with the champion midfielder.

"Clayton's someone that's very competitive, very determined and he's doing everything he can to get himself up," Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin said.

"It's just not worth the risk at the moment. He's had the surgery, he's in a really good spot but we're going to give him the week off.

"He's going to come and support and help out the coaches but he won't be playing.

"It's advice from the doctors and the surgeon that the best course of action is to take a bit longer with him and that's what we'll listen to.

"I've never seen a player have a will to win like Clayton and that's what makes him so special and that's what makes him a great teammate."

Oliver's absence comes at a time when the reigning premiers have lost four of their past six matches after being comfortably beaten in a top-of-the-table showdown with the Cats.

Another defeat this weekend against the Power could allow Fremantle to leapfrog them into second.

After losing their first five games of the season, Port have charged back into finals contention and will present a far bigger challenge than when the teams met back in round four.

"I think you always learn a lot against Geelong, they're a high-quality team" Goodwin said.

"There's no question we got a good touch-up in stoppage and clearance and we ended up having to deal with a lot of territory loss.

"We've got some work to do in a whole range of different areas but we still feel like we're progressing the right way."

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