EVEN with key players Gab Colvin and Eliza McNamara set to watch season seven from the sidelines as they nurse injuries, Melbourne has both the talent and depth of a team ready to challenge for its first premiership.
B: C.Wilson L.Birch
HB: S.Goldrick S Lampard S.Heath
C: C.Sherriff K.Paxman L.Mithen
HF: S.Duffy A.Bannan K.Hore
F: D.Pearce T.Harris
Foll: L.Pearce T.Hanks E.West
I/C: E.Zanker O.Purcell M.Gay M.Fitzsimon J.Ivey
EM: A. Brown M. Chaplin
Changes from last season
The addition of Charlotte Wilson couldn't have been more timely for Melbourne, with key defender Gab Colvin now unavailable due to an ACL injury. Wilson will support dual All-Australian Libby Birch as the side's key posts.
Once back to AFLW fitness after a year away from the game, Sabreena Duffy looks likely to slot into the forward line which has recently lost both Shelley Scott and Jackie Parry. Meanwhile, it is fair to expect Alyssa Bannan to again spend some time on the wing in Eliza McNamara's absence.
REPLACING ELIZA How the Dees can cover injured star's absence
This is a role Kate Hore can also contribute to, and the experienced Lily Mithen also showed some nous out on the wing in the back half of season six, so Melbourne is well placed to cover the loss of McNamara.
In the mix
A dominant VFLW season from the delisted Maeve Chaplin saw her redrafted, and while she is namely a midfielder, it is her ability to read and intercept the ball that makes her such a damaging prospect. Save for Melbourne's midfield depth, she would be in the side and will no doubt be pushing for a debut this season.
Alison Brown's endurance and work rate as a key position defender adds support to the backline, again particularly valuable given Colvin's injury. Tahlia Gillard offers similar depth in defence and through the ruck, as does Maggie Caris who was used sporadically throughout season six as coach Mick Stinear managed Lauren Pearce through some niggles.
Georgia Campbell offers similar support to the ruck, albeit as a forward, but does need to become a more dominant target to win a senior spot.
Irish addition Blaithan Mackin will develop her forward craft while pushing for selection, as will cricketer Georgia Gall in defence, and Samantha Johnson's work rate will see her challenge for a spot in the club's overflowing midfield stocks.