Seven to play first matches for Demons

Melbourne will have seven players make their debuts for the AFL club in Sunday's round-one clash against Port Adelaide.

Draftees Jack Viney, Jimmy Toumpas and Matthew Jones will all make their senior debuts in the MCG clash.

The Demons recruited Cam Pedersen (North Melbourne), David Rodan (Port Adelaide) and Geelong pair Shannon Byrnes and Tom Gillies from other clubs and they will also play.

Coach Mark Neeld has confirmed key forward Mitch Clark is in the team after overcoming a nine-month foot injury.

But former Collingwood key forward Chris Dawes and co-captain Jack Trengove have not recovered in time from pre-season injuries.

Neeld said Dawes in particular was close to making the team.


"It probably gets bigger every year about round one - (it) almost becomes grand-final proportions in terms of build-up," Neeld said.

"But Dawesy is really important not only to our short-term competitiveness but our long-term competitiveness and there's no way we're going to risk him."

There will be plenty of excitement among Demons fans about Viney's debut.

He joined the club in last year's national draft through the father-son rule.

His dad Todd is a former Melbourne captain and still works at the club after being their caretaker senior coach in 2011, following Dean Bailey's sacking.

Toumpas was Melbourne's top draft pick last November at No.4 and Jones, 25, joined them from Box Hill.

Melbourne finished 16th last season after Neeld suffered a nightmare senior coaching debut.

Brisbane beat them by 41 points in round one and West Coast belted them a week later by 108 points.

The Demons lost their first nine games.

Also at the start of last season, Neeld had to deny rumours he had treated indigenous players in his team different to their team-mates.

AFL official Jason Mifsud later publicly apologised for his part in the controversy.

This time around, Neeld is being careful about his public expectations of the team after he made wholesale changes to the list in the off-season.

"Our aim is simply to be more competitive for longer in games," he said.

"As to how many wins that eventually means, I'm not sure.

"But there are some great examples at the moment of football clubs who are ... doing things the right way.

"They've taken their time, chosen their squad, changed tack, changed game plans, changed coaches - Richmond are a really good example."