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Will Dees be able to cope with decimated forward line to start 2024 campaign?


Melbourne’s forward line has taken another hit with Harrison Petty assessed for a toe concern at training on Wednesday, reports Seven’s Mitch Cleary.

Petty missed the end of the 2023 season with a Lisfranc injury and has slowly been working his way back from that concern. Unfortunately for the swingman, his latest concern is on the other foot to the one that was already injured.

If Petty’s new concern is serious, he could join the likes of Tom McDonald, Jake Melksham, Ben Brown, Joel Smith and Kysaiah Pickett on the sidelines for the Opening Round clash against Sydney.

As a result, SEN Breakfast hosts Kane Cornes and Sam Edmund are a bit concerned with how much firepower Melbourne will have inside 50 to start the 2024 campaign.

Cornes: “Melbourne would be one of the most fascinating teams for me as we head into the year.

“Gerard Whateley said it the other day, if they won the premiership - you wouldn't be surprised. If they finished 10th – you wouldn't be surprised. That is sort of where we see Melbourne.

“It’s not ideal though because they've been, well, they're going to be forced to field an undermanned and inexperienced forward line against Sydney in its season opener next month as lingering injury worries, particularly the forward line.”

Edmund: “The forward line is decimated. Harry Petty has gone down – hopefully, we’ll get some details today. He got a toe injury on the other foot yesterday.”

Cornes: “It's a fresh injury?”

Edmund: “A fresh one. Now, I don't know how severe it is, but if it's something like turf toe, then that's going to linger for a long time.

“Tom McDonald has a calf, (Jake) Melksham, (Ben) Brown and (Tom) Fullarton already ruled out for the season start already.

“(Kysaiah) Pickett's suspended for Round 1. Shane McAdam’s got a calf at the moment. Ben Brown's got a knee. Joel Smith has got his drug case.

“There are tumbleweeds in that forward line. It might be just Bayley Fritch on his own inside 50, which might not be a bad thing. (Jacob) Van Rooyen as well, so the two of them up forward.”

Cornes: “If there was an area of the ground that they couldn't afford to lose players, it was there.”

Speaking of Petty, Cornes is still certain that the Demons should have taken the opportunity to trade the 24-year-old when the Crows came hard at him during the trade period.

Petty is currently tied to the club until the end of the 2025 season and Cornes is concerned they could lose the South Australian for far less than what was offered for him last year when he comes out of contract.

“They had the best opportunity to trade Harrison Petty of all time,” Cornes said.

“The value that was on offer for that player … it was like selling your house during the absolute boom, in terms of what was on offer from the Crows.

“He had the Lisfranc injury. We don't know if he's going to be able to bed down and hold up as a forward. We've seen it for a couple of games. There'd be some questions over whether he is a viable option as a key forward going forward.

“Adelaide were putting ridiculous offers on the table and he's probably going to go home anyway.

“You’ve got to read the room at times, and I know it's convenient now that he's injured again, but I bet you they look back or Melbourne fans look back and go, ‘We could have got two first-round draft picks for him and Adelaide would have been sucked in and we could have cleaned up’.

“If he leaves in 12 months it’ll be, ‘We didn't get that much out of him anyway’.”

Melbourne’s Opening Round clash against Sydney is set for Thursday, March 7 at the SCG.

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