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Injuries continue to mount, but Dees on the improve

MELBOURNE’S injury crisis is set to deepen with three players concussed in Friday night’s devastating loss to West Coast at Optus Stadium.

The trio went down in the second half. Alex Neal-Bullen was on the end of some friendly fire from Angus Brayshaw, Tim Smith’s head hit the turf when his arms were pinned in a Lewis Jetta tackle that is likely to see the Eagles speedster come under scrutiny from Match Review Officer Michael Christian, while Christian Salem went off late.

“Alex Neal-Bullen, Tim Smith and Christian Salem all were out of the game with concussion,” coach Simon Goodwin said.

EAGLES DO DEES SOME DAMAGE Full match coverage and stats

Among those still out are prized recruit Steven May (groin), Michael Hibberd (collarbone), Neville Jetta (knee), Jake Melksham (foot) and Aaron vandenBerg (ankle).

On the other side of the equation, defender Jake Lever will return from a left knee reconstruction in the VFL on Saturday while spring-heeled forward Mitch Hannan (knee) and Jay Kennedy Harris (leg) are closing in on comebacks.

Alex Neal-Bullen has headed to the rooms after this incident. #AFLEaglesDees

— AFL (@AFL) May 17, 2019

This was an agonising loss for the Demons. Their form resembled what they displayed in 2018, led by a supreme ruck display from Max Gawn and excellent ball movement through the middle of the ground.

However, poor kicking inside 50, and then wastefulness in front of goal, proved to be costly as the Eagles lifted in the final term and made the most of their chances.

FULL INJURY LIST Who’s ruled out and who’s a test?

Despite slipping to 3-6, Goodwin can see the improvement.

“It was one of our better performances, with where we’re going,” Goodwin said.

“It was a young group that travelled to Perth and they showed a lot of fight and a lot of resilience and played in the right way.”

The best and worst of Christian Petracca was on show. The No.2 draftee from 2014 produced some top-notch moments, but some of his errors proved costly.

Goodwin’s faith isn’t wavering though.

WATCH Simon Goodwin’s full post-match press conference

“He will start hitting the scoreboard more, we know that, but he’s heading in the right direction,” Goodwin said.

The Dees have a horror three weeks coming up: Greater Western Sydney (MCG), Adelaide (TIO Stadium) and Collingwood (MCG).

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