Melbourne stars Clayton Olver and Jake Lever ready to tackle Western Bulldogs

Melbourne superstar Clayton Oliver will return from a broken thumb in Saturday’s showdown with the Western Bulldogs after just one week on the sidelines as Demons coach Simon Goodwin declared it was time for the reigning premiers to start playing their best footy.

Star defender Jake Lever will be assessed on Friday after being cleared of structural damage to his shoulder, but Goodwin is hopeful he will also play in the second clash of the year with last year’s grand final opponents.

It’s a clash that comes amid what Goodwin has labelled a “brilliant preparation” for Melbourne’s tilt at back-to-back flags, with the final four games, after this week’s match, all against top eight teams.

After a “challenging” time through the middle of the season, where the Demons lost three games in a row, Goodwin’s men have won three of their past four and the coach is adamant their run to September will bring out Melbourne’s best football.

“The challenge is right before us as a footy club and we spoke about that last week and it’s now time for us to start putting our best footy out on the park consistently,” Goodwin said on Wednesday.

“You look at the teams we are playing in our run to the finals and they are going to be challenging every week and will tease the best out of us and we’ll learn a lot about our group on that path.

“It’s just a brilliant preparation for us. It’s the perfect way we want to play our footy against the best teams in the competition.”

Regaining Oliver, who missed just one match following surgery to a broken thumb sustained in round 17 against Geelong, only adds to Melbourne’s weaponry and Goodwin declared his star on-baller would benefit from his short break and the operation.

“We’re really confident that with the plates and pins put in that will stand up for the rest of the season,“ he said on Wednesday.

“He wanted to get the surgery as quickly as possible. In the end I think the freshen-up for him last week is going to do him well.

“He came up with us to Alice Springs (last weekend), did a lot of training up there, He’s done an incredible job to get himself right

“He’s been in my office a fair bit the last four or five days telling me he’s ready to go.”

Goodwin also revealed key forward Ben Brown would have to manage a knee issue, which limits his training output during quick turnarounds like this week, for the rest of his career.

But, like Lever, he should also be ready to tackle the Bulldogs despite limited output at training.

“He’s got some ongoing management of his knee he’s going to have for the rest of his career. We knew that when we brought Ben to our footy club,” Goodwin said.

“He’s going to have a quieter week on the training track … we have a six-day turnaround, that’s normal. Will train and be ready to play”

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