Melbourne's defensive stocks were dealt a dual blow prior to the reigning premier's 26-point victory over the Western Bulldogs on Wednesday night, with Christian Salem and Jake Lever ending the season opener on the sidelines.
While a plantar fascia complaint saw the mustachioed Lever fail to pull on the boots for the Redlegs' Round 1 date with the Dogs, Salem's night came to an early halt after being wrapped up by opposition skipper, Marcus Bontempelli.
Forced to watch on as his side coughed up an early lead only to regain it in an almost identical manner to last season's decider out west, the 26-year-old rebounder was left using a singular crutch for aide and with ice on his left knee.
The pair of backline blows have only compounded Melbourne's early defensive woes, with Michael Hibberd (calf), Trent Rivers (knee) and Harrison Petty (calf) also missing from the back six that lifted the premiership cup last September.
Should both Lever and Salem miss the Demons' Round 2 clash against Gold Coast at Metricon next Saturday night, full-back Steven May and youngster Jake Bowey would remain the only fit defenders that played an active role in ending Melbourne's premiership drought in Perth.
Speaking after his side's ability to hop the opening hurdle in their first premiership defence since 1965, Simon Goodwin revealed that the extent of Salem's ailment was not yet known.
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"He'll have scans tomorrow," Goodwin told the awaiting media throng at the MCG.
"We're pretty hopeful it won't be too bad. We'll just wait and see on that. We're hopeful that it's not the worst possible news. It might be a few weeks, but the first indications are that it's not looking too bad."
The first Dees' steward to hoist the cup since Norm Smith went on to shed light on Lever's failed race to be right for the season's opening night.
"He tore his plantar fascia on Sunday," Goodwin said of the fellow 26-year-old.
"For people that don't know, that's a good thing. That gives him a chance to really recover, because it's been niggling him for four or five weeks now. We'll let that settle over the next 10 days until our next opponent.
"We'll see how he pulls up over the next four of five days. We're hopeful he might be available for next week, but we'll wait and see."
The opening bounce of the Demons' date with the Suns at Metricon Stadium is scheduled for 8:00 pm AEDT on Saturday, March 26.