Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has applauded veteran defender Michael Hibberd's  'enormously courageous' ability to play out last week's loss to Geelong with a lacerated kidney - an injury that will now keep the premiership backman out of action for close to a month.

Hibberd suffered a blow to the ribs in the early stages of his side's Round 16 clash with the Cats, with the club confirming earlier this week that the 33-year-old will miss his side's upcoming trip to Alice Springs to face GWS with the setback.

The full extent of the blow has left Hibberd with a lacerated kidney, with the Demons set to take a cautious approach with their hampered veteran's recovery. Hibberd is expected to miss up to four weeks with the injury, which will limit his contact training ability.

His coach was of high praise when speaking of his effort to play out last week's loss, stating it was an "incredible" and "unbelievable" act by the ex-Bomber.

"It's a pretty serious injury in a lot of ways, he had a laceration to the kidney which is something we'll take with a great deal of caution," Goodwin said.

"So he'll have no contact for a few weeks, and then we'll slowly build him back up again. He'll still be able to continue to train and do some physical activity, but it's just that contact that he certainly won't have any dealings within the next few weeks.

"We're hopeful he'll probably be back within three weeks, but it could be four. We'll just wait and see and see how he's recovering and see how he's feeling. We certainly won't take any risk in that space with Michael.

Embed from Getty Images

"It's incredible how he actually got through the game. It's enormous courage to have a hit like that early in the game and to continue to play on, and play the level that he did was unbelievable."

Hibberd's setback will open the door for young defender Jake Bowey to take his place back in the senior side, having made a successful return through the VFL last Friday for Casey after recovering from a concussion.

Goodwin has hinted that Bowey will be a strong chance to take Hibberd's place in the senior side, with the premiership coach looking to find consistency in his defensive third.

The Demons dropped Adam Tomlinson last week in favour of Harrison Petty, a move that came as some surprise given Tomlinson's recent form in Petty's absence.

"'Bows' was in terrific form, he played an outstanding game in the VFL coming back from a concussion and certainly put his hand up for selection, there's no doubt about that," the Demons coach said.

"He's a high-quality player that plays the game the right way, and we're excited about what he can bring to the team in the not-too-distant future.

"... We've probably been going a bit smaller in the back half of the ground for a period of time. Having a look at a few things forward of centre, we sort of wanted to really try and bring the strengths of May and Lever back to the forefront. So moving a tall to the back half of the ground has enabled us to do that and we think that's progressing pretty well.

"There's no doubt we've got some options in the back half of the ground, whether that be Harrison Petty or Adam Tomlinson. We certainly want to make sure that we give our defensive system the support it needs. It's the cornerstone of our game, and we feel like it keeps us in games. It's where premierships (are won) and good teams can build off the back of, so we certainly want to tinker with that too much moving forward".

While the Demons will be forced into at least one change with Hibberd's injury, Goodwin won't have superstar midfielder Clayton Oliver available for this weekend and potentially next as the four-time best and fairest winner deals with a hamstring injury.

Clayton Oliver during Melbourne's open training session at Gosch's Paddock, Melbourne in 2022 (Photo by Cameron Grimes/Zero Digital Sports)

Oliver required further scans on his hamstring last week, having battled further issues with the ailment after initially being tipped to play earlier this month. An infected blister in his foot delayed his chances of a return before the hamstring worry flared up once again.

Goodwin revealed Oliver is no guarantee to play next week when Melbourne face St Kilda at Marvel Stadium, however, the Demons ball winner is nearing a return.

"There's no doubt it's tracking in the right direction from a hamstring perspective, but the scan did show that it was pretty much what Clayton was feeling, that he couldn't get to maximum speed because it still wasn't fully healed yet. We're working with Clayton around that," Goodwin said.

"He clearly won't play this week. He will train today, he's tracking in the right direction.

"We're trying to tick off his max speed next week, which he needs to hit to be available to play and we're hopeful without any other setback and him continuing to feel better that he'll play the following week."

A handful of Melbourne players will travel to the Northern Territory on Friday before the rest of the playing group lands in Alice Springs the day after for their clash with GWS on Sunday.