Melbourne veteran Lachie Hunter is "knocking on the door" from a recent calf issue that hindered his start to the 2024 season.

Hunter missed the Demons' opening six matches of the year due to the injury, which was sustained late into the pre-season.

The former Western Bulldogs winger returned via the VFL before Melbourne's Round 6 bye, collecting 23 disposals, four tackles and three marks in his comeback performance.

The recent break for Melbourne has left the club to weigh up whether they'll keep Hunter at state league level as he builds on his match loads, or if he comes back into the side that fell to Brisbane by 22 points almost a fortnight ago.

First-year midfielder Caleb Windsor has flourished in Hunter's absence, while off-season recruit Jack Billings could be one to make way for the 29-year-old at selection.

"He's coming into the selection conversation," coach Simon Goodwin said of Hunter.

"He played some really strong footy in his last game, especially in the second half. So he's started getting himself into a position where he's really knocking on the door.

"We'll make that decision later today, but he's certainly someone that's important to us, is an experienced player and can play multiple roles. So we're sort of can you get him in at some stage soon.

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

"We've got a lot of guys that are starting to press claims. We're getting healthier all the time. Shane McAdam is playing his first game for Casey tomorrow. So we're looking forward to seeing that and getting him back in the fold.

"So we're starting to get some more people back available for selection to go along with some of the younger players to performing well."

The Demons will make at least one change for their clash with Richmond on Thursday night as small forward Kysaiah Pickett returns from suspension.

Melbourne could make a second change if they seek a like-for-like replacement for injured defender Christian Salem, who will miss the coming rounds with a hamstring injury.

Round 5 debutant Koltyn Tholstrup could be one to miss the Anzac Day eve clash given Pickett's return, with backman Marty Hore cleared to return and potentially the replacement for Salem.

"He's pretty important, isn't he? It's great to have him back," Goodwin said of Pickett.

"Obviously he's an important player to us and we missed him against Brisbane. He brings an energy to our forward half, he hits the scoreboard, he brings a different dynamic to our midfield.

"He's really important to getting back into our team."

Thursday's affair will see former Melbourne assistant coach Adem Yze face his old club in just his seventh game in charge of the Tigers.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Adem Yze and Troy Chaplin the assistant coaches of the Demons walk out onto the field during the round seven AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Hawthorn Hawks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 30, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

An admirable servant to Goodwin for three years - including the club's drought-breaking premiership run - Yze could have the advantage of knowing the Demons' tactics, but Goodwin believes it'll be a level playing field at the MCG this week.

"He would know us very well, and we know him very well. So I don't think there's an advantage either way," Goodwin said.

"We have enormous respect for Adem for what he obviously did for us as a footy club and our coaching group.

"We've always respected what he does at Richmond, which has been a challenging time with injury. But when you watch Richmond play, you know one thing; they're going to bring effort, they're gonna bring intensity and they're going to play the right way.

"You can see that even in their losses so far they've challenged a lot of teams and they've beaten some teams at the top of the ladder. So we're  going to have to be right on our game."

 2024-04-24T09:25:00Z 
 
 
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