Melbourne are hoping to have Clayton Oliver ready for their Opening Round trip to Sydney, but have conceded their superstar midfielder is no certainty to play despite edging closer to a return.

Oliver took part in three quarters of Sunday's match practice against Richmond, featuring against and alongside a balance of AFL and VFL-listed players for the final three periods in what was his first matchplay session of the pre-season.

The four-time best and fairest winner was a dominant presence through midfield and even got forward to boot a tricky goal from the boundary within minutes of his return to the field.

A heavy collision and fall left Oliver in the hands of trainers during the contest, only for the 26-year-old to return to the field soon after.

The Demons ball magnet was among the top possession winners in the second half of Sunday's proceedings, taking a major step in his bid for AFL action early into the home and away season.

"It's great for Clayton. He's been back in the program for a couple of weeks now. He's been through a fair bit this summer," Melbourne assistant Troy Chaplin told media after Sunday's game.

"So I think for him, being able to get through three quarters, while taking a pretty big hit at one stage... you can see the class he does bring.

"We're excited to have him back in the program and we're looking forward to the next few weeks. Hopefully he can play some really good footy for us for the rest of the season."

Chaplin expects Oliver will take to the field for the Demons' Community Series clash with Carlton at Ikon Park on Wednesday, February 28 in what will be Melbourne's final hitout before their season opener at the SCG in early March.

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The Demons will continue talks with the AFL as they look to bring Oliver - who has spent a large portion of the pre-season on personal leave - back to full commitments in the near future.

"I'll assume he'll play some more minutes against Carlton," Chaplin said.

"That process will be a club and AFL process. 'Goody' (Simon Goodwin) and 'Richo' (Alan Richardson) will work closely with the AFL and what that looks like.

"It was just great to see him perform and play. It doesn't look like he's missed a beat.

"He's trained extremely hard since he's been away from the group, so he's put himself in a good position to still be able to perform once the season starts."

While an Opening Round appearance might not be likely for Oliver, the Demons aren't ruling out having their star midfielder on the flight to Sydney.

Needing to "bring him up to speed" on game planning and tactics for the season ahead, Melbourne will see how the coming weeks progress for Oliver and the playing group before making a selection decision.

"If all goes well (Oliver could play against Sydney)," Chaplin said.

"He has missed a little bit of education and some game-style stuff, but he has been working really closely with Andrew McQualter on that.

"So we'll bring him up to speed as quickly as possible, but there's some other things that he's got to tick off.

"For him it's just been about getting back out there and building some rapport with the players again.

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"He's a quality player and one we really need in our team. He'll walk away (from Sunday's session) pretty happy and looking forward to what's next."

With Oliver absent for the opening four quarters of Sunday's match practice at Casey Fields the Demons were able to trial a number of new and emerging faces through their midfield rotations.

Recruit Jack Billings, rookie Kynan Brown, utility Alex Neal-Bullen, forward Kysaiah Pickett and youngster Bailey Laurie all got a look at central stoppages, while Josh Schache and Will Verrall were used in the ruck after Max Gawn was put on ice.

"We got to see some guys (in midfield) who haven't played much footy together," Chaplin added.

"Jack Billings played through there, Josh Schache as well. We saw Kynan Brown play a little bit through there too.

"We've tried some things over the summer, we're trying to find that right mix."

Melbourne are likely to have Lachie Hunter back from a calf injury for their upcoming pre-season clash with Carlton, with the former Bulldogs wingman getting through a big session on Sunday morning.

Christian Salem - who also played alongside Oliver on Sunday - is also building up his workload following back and hamstring issues, while Angus Brayshaw (illness), Charlie Spargo (Achilles) and Taj Woewodin (concussion) are also in line to face the Blues.

Melbourne will face Carlton at Princes Park at 6:40pm AEDT on Wednesday, February 28 before heading to Sydney to face the Swans for their Opening Round clash.