Jones backs Demons defence to fire in AFL

Roger Vaughan
Jake Lever will be a big loss for the Demons as he undergoes knee surgery

A wealth of AFL experience will be crucial as Melbourne's defence adjusts to life without Jake Lever.

The high-profile recruit is out for the rest of the season, with a knee injury in last weekend's win against the Western Bulldogs meaning a reconstruction.

Lever's talent for intercept marking makes him a hard player to replace, but co-captain Nathan Jones has backed their backline to adjust.

Jones pointed to veterans Michael Hibberd, Bernie Vince and Jordan Lewis, plus Neville Jetta was an All-Australian nominee last year and he has also played all 11 games this season.

"The luxury that we've got at the moment is that our backline is reasonably experienced ... so hopefully we can bring in a Joel Smith, Josh Wagner type," Jones said.

"They (veterans) can help mould him into the role that we want him to fill on ground, but in saying that we've got other guys in form like Sam Frost and Cam Pedersen who could come in and we could juggle the team around a little bit.

"That's something the coaches will work on the next few days in match committee and we'll see how it shapes up on Monday."

Pedersen and Smith are among the additions to Melbourne's extended squad for the Monday match.

Jones feels for Lever, given he had found good form after a slow start at his new club following the controversial move from Adelaide.

"First and foremost, we were pretty shattered and disappointed - I guess heartbroken to a certain degree - because he had some real form over the last five weeks," Jones said.

Whoever comes into the side will have his work cut out in Monday's blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.

While Melbourne are on a six-game winning streak, the Magpies also have won their last three.

They also kicked 20-plus goals last weekend for the first time in two seasons.

Jones took careful note of how Collingwood scored their goals - Will Hoskin-Elliott kicked six and debutant Brodie Mihocek had a dream debut with four.

"That's one thing I've taken note of, definitely, and we'll be aware of, their versatility down there," Jones said.

"They're quite dynamic and (they have) some real hybrid-type players who are good in the air and on the ground."