Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin could look toward uncapped father-son midfielder Taj Woewodin to help fill the void left by injured superstar Clayton Oliver.
Oliver suffered a low-gade hamstring strain in last Friday's loss to Port Adelaide during the third term, however was able to play out the narrow defeat before fitness concerns arised.
The club confirmed earlier this week that Oliver is facing an unknown timeframe in his recovery but won't meet Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday.
Melbourne are unaware of when they'll welcome back the four-time best and fairest winner, with Goodwin knowing there's no one player that can replace Oliver's pedigree in midfield.
"It's a minor strain, so we're just going to build him through that process. How long that takes we're unsure," Goodwin said on Wednesday.
"He's such a diligent player around his rehab and his ability to get his body right. We give him every chance in the next few weeks to work through those processes.
"We're not sure how long (the recovery timeline) is, which can be frustrating, but we don't know one. Obviously we're going to be very cautious with him. He's an important player to us so we're gonna make sure he's right."
Oliver's absence will open the door for a number of fringe Demons to stake their claim for a spot against the Dockers, with young onballer Tom Sparrow likely to be in consideration after serving his one-game suspension during Round 10.
Goodwin raised Woewodin's name as a potential asset to look toward this week, with the young Demon impressing at VFL level this year. The 20-year-old collected 22 disposals, four clearances, five marks and a goal in Casey's high-scoring win over North Melbourne across the weekend to be in the frame for a debut.
The son of Brownlow Medal winner Shane, Woewodin was taken with the 65th and final pick in the 2021 National Draft out of Booragoon in Western Australia.
"It gives great opportunity to not only players that currently sit in our midfield but also players that could potentially come into the team," the premiership coach said of his selection dilemma.
"We've got some guys at VFL level in Taj Woewodin, Bailey Laurie and James Harmes that are playing some great footy, so we'll look at that.
"But there's an increased responsibility for a Tom Sparrow, Christian Petracca, (Jack) Viney... we've got some options there.
"It's just going to be a team-based thing. You can't replace Clayton Oliver with one player."
The Casey Demons returned to play over the weekend after a bye the week prior, while another break will fall in line with Melbourne's Round 14 bye in mid-June. The VFL side will have two more breaks in July and August despite the senior side continuing to play.
Following the competition's expansion into New South Wales and Queensland ahead of the 2021 season, VFL clubs will also travel interstate as part of the fixture, at times away from the AFL club's own travels.
The mixture of byes and interstate trips has become a frustration for AFL senior coaches who are hoping to align their programs and selection capacity.
"The more we can build alignment between the VFL and the AFL, and the closer we can get that alignment between the games they play (would be ideal)," Goodwin said.
"Byes are certainly unhelpful for us, and where they scheduled their games. The more alignment we can develop is better for (the players) preparation and performance.
"We use the VFL to educate and train our players about (their) role and how closely they are aligned to the AFL program."
Melbourne will face Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday at 2:10pm (AEST), while Casey's clash with Werribee will commence just five minutes prior at Avalon Airport Oval.