Melbourne would be better served recalling Tom McDonald for the AFL finals ahead of out-of-favour ruckman Brodie Grundy, former Demons captain Nathan Jones says.
Grundy's ruck-forward combination with captain Max Gawn has not worked as well as hoped, casting doubt over the former Collingwood star's future at the club.
But mobile forward Jake Melksham's season-ending knee injury has opened the door and left coach Simon Goodwin with a selection headache ahead of the qualifying final against minor premiers Collingwood on September 7.
Grundy put his hand up with a strong VFL showing for Casey last weekend when he tallied 33 disposals, 18 hit-outs and three goals in a 101-point thrashing of North Melbourne.
But Jones is not in favour of Goodwin going back to the Gawn-Grundy combination in September.
"That's been proven not to be the best look for them," Jones said at the TAB finals launch on Wednesday.
"(Grundy) has shown some form ... but I've liked the dynamic that they've had when they've gone a little bit smaller (in attack) and played Max as the pure ruckman.
"That would be my preference."
McDonald kicked 5.2 from 17 disposals for Casey in the same match as Grundy's impressive display.
The 30-year-old, a key cog in the Demons' 2021 premiership side, has not played at AFL level since round 11 but has tallied nine goals in three VFL matches since returning from an ankle injury.
Jones believes McDonald is the best fit for the forward line alongside leading goal-kicker Bayley Fritsch and young tall Jacob van Rooyen, who can also help out Gawn in the ruck.
"He's proven in that forward role in particular and Max plays his best footy spending a large chunk of time as the key ruckman and resting down there (in the forward line) for small periods of time," Jones said.
"To fill that void that's now left by Jake (Melksham), I'd be going with that more pure forward in Tommy."
Melksham had found form in recent weeks but tore an anterior cruciate ligament during the round-24 win over Sydney and will be sidelined for up to a year.
The 32-year-old is out of contract at the end of this season but Jones is hopeful one of his closest friends will get the chance to extend his career.
Jones and Melksham both missed out on the Demons' drought-breaking premiership in 2021.
"It's pretty devastating. I know the motivating factor for him was to build his way back and join that group in another finals campaign," Jones said.
"He was well on the way to doing that and entrenched himself back in the team, which has been a huge climb for him.
"Unfortunately that's the way it goes and that's why the game is so brutal."