Melbourne coach Paul Roos is pleading for one final hurrah from his tired charges, but promising forward Jesse Hogan won’t be risked as the club attempts to avoid an ugly end to the AFL season.
The Demons slumped to their ninth straight loss on Saturday night after copping a 66-point hammering at the hands of West Coast at Patersons Stadium.
Such was the gulf in class between the two sides, Melbourne didn’t take a mark inside their forward 50m arc until three minutes into the final quarter.
Melbourne faces another potential flogging when they round out their season with a tough match against North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
The Demons could be without reliable defender Colin Garland, who injured his knee in the 8.11 (119) to 8.5 (53) loss to West Coast.
Melbourne showed great promise during the middle part of the season, recording wins over Carlton, Adelaide, Richmond and Essendon.
The Demons also came close to beating Gold Coast and Port Adelaide.
But despite the early progress, Roos admits his team have simply run out of puff.
“We’ve probably got eight or nine guys now that look really tired that didn’t have pre-seasons,” Roos said.
“You hope they can see the light at the end of the tunnel almost.
“I’d say it will be a pretty light week (on the training track) to try to get the guys ready for one last, two-and-a-half hour crack.
“We’ve played some really good footy this year and improved a hell of a lot.
“But if we’re off playing against a good team, it’s impossible for us to compete. We don’t have a margin for error.”
Roos said the inclusion of promising forward Hogan next year would give the side vital marking power in attack.
Hogan, who was sidelined for more than five months with a back injury, made his playing return via the VFL last week.
But Roos said the 19-year-old had pulled up a tad sore and wouldn’t be risked against the Kangaroos.
“He’s had such a tough year. He’s back training and healthy again … but it will be pointless playing him (against North Melbourne),” Roos said.
“For us it’s like having a new recruit (next year). His body shape has really changed.”
Although Hogan’s inclusion next year will be a massive boost for the Demons, Roos said the addition of some midfield class would be the priority during the off-season.