MELBOURNE will rush back defender Steven May from a club-imposed suspension as coach Simon Goodwin again dismisses claims he has behaviour issues.
May was banned by the Demons for one match for brawling with teammate Jake Melksham at a restaurant on June 5.
Goodwin says May, having served his ban, will return for Thursday night’s blockbuster against Brisbane.
“He has trained outstandingly well,” Goodwin told reporters on Monday.
“And he’s really keen on building the trust back with the playing group and putting his best performances on-field and leading like he does on-field to a really high level.”
Melksham, who has played just three AFL games this season, will also be available after having two surgeries after a hand injured in the fight became infected.
The Demons still hold second spot despite losing three consecutive games entering the MCG encounter with the ladder-leading Lions.
The rut has come amid fresh controversy involving the club’s former president Glen Bartlett, who quit in April last year.
Bartlett last week issued a statement saying he tried to rid Melbourne of workplace bullying, gambling, harassment and illegal drugs.
There were previous reports that Melbourne’s board under Bartlett investigated alleged behavioural problems of Goodwin from 2018 to early last year which included drinking, gambling and bullying.
Asked about Bartlett’s latest claims, Goodwin replied: “They’re completely irrelevant to me.
“The club put out a really strong statement about what they thought of all those claims.
“I know who I am. They are no behavioural issues on my behalf.
“And for me, I haven’t really thought about it in the last 18 months.
“We have moved forward as a footy club. It’s not a distraction from a player’s perspective and for me personally, so we just keep moving forward.”
Melbourne’s board responded to Bartlett’s claims with a statement in support of Goodwin, describing the premiership coach as an “exceptional and inclusive leader”.
Goodwin said his sole focus was turning around the Demons’ on-field fortunes without captain Max Gawn, who will miss at least a month because of an ankle injury.
“Yeah, we have lost three games in a row,” Goodwin said.
“But we do know our method stacks up and it has stacked up for a period of time.
“The role execution has been off in the last few weeks so building some cohesion in our playing group again and getting the players back into their key positions will be really important for us.
“And I don’t believe that we’re a boring side … we have certainly got growth in a lot of areas to get better at, but we play a certain way and we will back that in.”
(C) AAP 2022