Demons confirm Tom McDonald's long-awaited return

Melbourne premiership forward Tom McDonald is locked in to play his first game since May in a major boost for the Demons ahead of their qualifying-final blockbuster against Collingwood.

The 30-year-old has been restricted to six games this season after battling with an ankle injury.

But McDonald, who missed Melbourne's straight-sets exit from the finals last year, has got himself fit for Thursday night's clash with the Magpies in front of more than 90,000 fans at the MCG.

Veteran defender Michael Hibberd has also earned a recall.

"He's got his timing right, Tommy, hasn't he," Demons coach Simon Goodwin said on Wednesday.

"He's played the last three games really well at VFL; now he's kicking goals, he's moving better, he's got his body 100 per cent fit and healthy.

"He's a really important player for us. He's a leader and he's proven that he can play well in finals footy."

McDonald booted 33 goals during Melbourne's 2021 premiership campaign, combining well with lethal left-footer Bayley Fristch.

The Demons will be without Jake Melksham, who performed admirably in the back-half of this season before rupturing his ACL in the final round clash with Sydney.

That win at the SCG was Fritsch's first appearance in two months due to being sidelined with a foot injury.

Fritsch starred with five goals in his return against the Swans but did send a scare through the Melbourne camp when he hobbled off with a sore foot.

"He's trained fully the last week so he's ready to go," Goodwin said.

"He did a fairly big running session on Saturday ... there's no questions about Bayley, he's a class player."

Up to 29 players took part in Melbourne's training run at Gosch's Paddock in front of a large contingent of Demons supporters.

Wet and cold weather is expected for the 1 v 4 battle, but Collingwood have already declared they intend to play both of their ruckmen, Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox.

Melbourne will go with captain Max Gawn as their sole ruckman and again leave Grundy on the sidelines as an emergency.

Grundy trained with the main group on Wednesday, but so did fringe players Adam Tomlinson and Josh Schache.

Joel Smith missed training after his partner gave birth to the couple's first child but the versatile tall has still been named on the bench.

Goodwin believed the pain of last year's abrupt exit from the finals during a mammoth upset by the Brisbane Lions will help drive the Demons this September.

"It’s a big stage to play on ... we think we are well-prepared, we think we are ready," he said.

"We can’t wait to get out there and execute what we have been doing for the last eight weeks."

Meanwhile, Collingwood made the difficult call to drop John Noble after the running defender played in all 23 games during the home-and-away campaign.

Noble had played 83 consecutive matches for the Magpies, dating back to 2020, the seventh-longest streak by a current player in the AFL.

Crafty small forward Jack Ginnivan has been included in the emergencies, preferring to recall Beau McCreery after he served his one-game suspension, despite kicking three goals in the smashing of Essendon two weeks ago.

As confirmed by coach Craig McRae earlier in the week, captain Darcy Moore and fellow defender Nathan Murphy have overcome respective injuries.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store