Demons lose leaders Gawn, Viney in AFL

Simon Goodwin has to figure out a plan on how to counter Todd Goldstein with Max Gawn ruled out.
Simon Goodwin has to figure out a plan on how to counter Todd Goldstein with Max Gawn ruled out.

Melbourne have lost injured captain Max Gawn and his deputy Jack Viney for Sunday's AFL clash against North Melbourne.

Ruckman Gawn will miss because of a torn muscle in his back and also knee soreness, while Viney is sidelined by concussion for the Adelaide Oval fixture.

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin says Gawn won't be risked given the four-day turnaround from the Demons' last game.

"He has got a few sore spots, so with the short turnaround it's best to give him a rest," Goodwin told reporters on Saturday.

"It's not too serious. The torn muscle in his back is one thing, he has got a little bit of soreness in a knee as well.

"So they're two things we are monitoring pretty closely."

Gawn's absence looms large against the Kangaroos' expert ruck Todd Goldstein.

"Todd is a terrific player, he's in outstanding form, I think he's leading clearances in the competition," Goodwin said.

"So it's a big responsibility for the person that comes in and takes that role up and an exiting one as well.

"It's a good challenge for our midfielders to work against a different type of ruck situation and try and get a result in that phase of the game.

"We know what we're up against, a really good footy team especially around stoppage areas."

The 12th-placed Demons (four wins, five losses) will also be without Alex Neal-Bullen against the 15th-placed Kangaroos (three wins, seven losses).

Neal-Bullen copped a four-game suspension for a sling tackle which concussed Adelaide's Will Hamill last Monday night.

Goodwin said his club was "incredibly disappointed" with the lengthy ban.

"But that's the way the tribunal saw it," he said.

"All I can say about that is Alex's character ... there was certainly no malice in what he did and he's obviously very, very remorseful for what has taken place.

"But the four weeks is a pretty big, hefty penalty and one that we will have to live with."

Off-season recruit Harley Bennell has been dropped for the second time this year and Jay Lockhart has been managed, while Tom McDonald, Kysaiah Pickett, Mitch Hannan, Charlie Spargo and Trent Rivers have been recalled.

North Melbourne have replaced injured forward Ben Brown (knee) with Nick Larkey.

Luke Davies-Uniacke returns from injury and Sam Durdin has been picked for his first game of the year.

Australian Associated Press