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CROWDOWN by Paddy Gosch

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The Demons open their 2020 season account with a "home" game against the Adelaide Crows at Casey Fields. It’s been more than 5 and half agonising months for the team and supporters who are eager to atone for the disappointing 2019 season which saw the Dees go from Preliminary Finalist to 2nd bottom on the ladder.

The preseason campaign has been a hard slog with the addition of respected High Performance Manager Darren Burgess. We caught a glimpse of the gut busting sessions in the Melbourne Football Club’s documentary series To Hell and Back. Faithful fans and Demonland Trackwatchers have been keeping the online community informed of the teams progress over the summer and it’s pleasing to note that the number of players on the field and out of rehab this season far outweighs the numbers from last year which had a significant impact on our fall from grace in 2019.

Going in to the first practice match of the season we have 12 players unavailable for varying reasons including injury and player load management. Most notably Max Gawn has been sidelined with a knee injury but is expected to be back for Round 1 if not for our next Marsh Series match against Hawthorn in Tasmania.

Other who will miss the game are Angus Brayshaw (elbow), Steven May (Knee), Mitch Hannan (Groin), Braydon Preuss (Knee), Kade Chandler (Wrist), Kyle Dunkley (Ankle), Harrison Petty (Groin), Corey Wagner (Knee), Harley Bennell (Calf), Kade Kolodjashnij (Head) & Aaron Nietschke (Knee).

The Demons backup ruck stocks will be tested with Gawn and Preuss unavailable. Those duties will be shared by Weideman, new number 3 draft pick Luke Jackson & discarded Bomber Mitch Brown.

Last week the injury list had a more familiar ring to it with Tom McDonald spending time in the rehab group for a knee complaint, the same knee he injured last season & Aaron vandenBerg who hobbled from the training track and did not train again for a few sessions. Both players have been named in the side this week so if they play I expect that their minutes will be managed.

Other than in the ruck the Demons have named a very strong line up for their first hit out in 2020. Most of our Best 22 with the exception of Gawn & May are available. There are a few new faces that will play their first game in the Red and Blue. Fans will get their first glimpses of rookies Luke Jackson and Kysaiah Pickett, recently acquired Adam Tomlinson (GWS) & recently traded Ed Langdon (Fremantle) as well as Key Forward Mitch Brown from Essendon.

The players not named for the clash against the Crows and not on the above mentioned injury list include; Toby Bedford, James Jordon, Trent Rivers, Jayden Hunt, Marty Hore, Oskar Baker, Josh Wagner & Austin Bradtke. These players will be lining up for Melbourne/Casey to take on Essendon at Casey today. As Essendon are not participating in a Marsh Series game this weekend they are likely to field a much stronger team than the Demons so I would not put too much stock in the result.

The Crows are also looking for redemption from a disappointing 2019 campaign which saw their coach get sacked and a number of players requesting trades to other clubs. They have also named a strong line up for the match.

It’s only a practice match and no doubt both coaches will be trialling different tactics and players out of position but I’m expecting a hard fought, even contest from two teams looking to make amends for last year.

Demons by 15 points.

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