‘Smile on his face’: Demon star over issue

Melbourne Demons Training Session
Clayton Oliver is ready to go after finger surgery during the Demons’ bye. Picture: Robert Cianflone / Getty Images

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says Clayton Oliver has a “smile on his face” and should be able to return at full power against Richmond after undergoing finger surgery last week.

Goodwin defended the Demons’ decision to wait until after the round 5 Brisbane loss to send Oliver for surgery, saying the star midfielder had insisted on playing until the bye.

Oliver dislocated his finger in a training mishap ahead of the round 3 clash against Port Adelaide and carried the injury through the next three games.

Already dealing with the effects of an interrupted pre-season, the 26-year-old was visibly hampered against the Lions and eventually moved to a back pocket after he failed to register a single clearance in the first half.

“There’s no question that carrying that finger for three weeks, the weight of that in the last game, especially, was getting really hard for him,” Goodwin said.

AFL Rd 5 - Melbourne v Brisbane
Clayton Oliver had to wear a protective glove against Brisbane and struggled for impact as he managed the discomfort. Picture: Michael Willson / Getty Images

“So to get that fixed, to get him healthy and to get him functioning really well is important, and you can see once again similar to the start of the season, he’s got that smile on his face. “He’s got that eagerness and that energy to come out and perform.”

Goodwin said the Demons had quickly determined the bye would be the best time for Oliver to have the procedure on his finger and had not strayed from the original plan.

“No, it was always planned to be done in that period,” he said when asked if the Demons regretted waiting.

“It was a pretty compact sort of time for our fixturing obviously, so it was always planned to do that.

“Clayton was aware, and embraced that was the situation and he wanted to go down that path, so the main thing is it’s been fixed and he’s ready to go.”

St Kilda vs Collingwood
Forgotten Demons recruit Shane McAdam will play his first VFL game for Casey against Richmond on Wednesday after overcoming a hamstring strain. Picture: Michael Klein

Goodwin said Kysaiah Pickett’s return would be crucial to the Demons’ plans for the Wednesday night MCG clash after his absence was sorely felt against the Lions.

“He’s pretty important isn’t he? It’s great to have him back, obviously he’s an important player to us and we missed him against Brisbane,” Goodwin said.

“He brings an energy to our forward half, he hits the scoreboard, he brings a different dynamic to our midfield, so it’s really important to get him back in our team.”

The coach was also buoyed by the return to fitness of Adelaide recruit Shane McAdam, who will play for Casey against Richmond on Wednesday afternoon after repeat soft tissue injuries ruined his first pre-season at his new club.

“We’re getting healthier all the time – Shane McAdam is playing his first game at Casey tomorrow, so we’re looking forward to seeing him back in the fold, and Lachie Hunter has come back in recent weeks, so we’re starting to get some more people back available for selection, to go with some of the younger players who have been performing well,” Goodwin said.