‘Primary focus is Clayton’s overall wellbeing’: Star midfielder misses start of Dees pre-season on medical leave
Melbourne will begin its pre-season training period without Clayton Oliver, as the star midfielder remains on leave to deal with ongoing personal issues.
Oliver’s wellbeing has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent months, after the Demons shockingly put the four-time best and fairest winner on the trade table late last year amid frustrations with his off-field professionalism following a severe hamstring injury.
While no trade was struck and the club recommitted to the 26-year old provided he shape up, recent months have left his AFL future clouded, with Oliver hospitalised after suffering a reported seizure and charged with driving with a licence that was suspended on medical grounds.
With Oliver absent from the Dees’ first day of pre-season training on Thursday, the club’s football general manager Alan Richardson confirmed the star on-baller remains on indefinite leave.
“Clayton has personal issues that he has been dealing with. Clayton has been working extremely closely with his personal medical team, and with the support of key Club staff, in order to manage these challenges,” Richardson said in a statement.
“The Club fully supports Clayton taking this important time out which will allow him to focus on these challenges.
“Our primary focus is Clayton’s overall wellbeing, and we will continue to support him through this period.
“It’s important for Clayton that we respect his privacy and his need for time and space.”
Oliver previously left the Demons’ pre-Christmas training camp in Lorne to begin his period away from the club.
His continued absence comes after former great Kane Cornes claimed Oliver’s personal issues are ‘bigger than what most people I think are realising’ on SEN Sportsday in early January.
“One of the game’s absolute stars’ future is in serious doubt,” Cornes said.
“It’s always tricky to talk about when there is at least a small element of this story regarding a player’s welfare and mental health.
“He wasn’t able to complete the training camp in Lorne… he left. That’s not meeting minimum club expectations if he can’t actually train and you’re once again in a bit of trouble with the law.”
In addition to Oliver’s charge for driving with a suspended licence, for which he will appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court in February, he was also bizarrely accused of bending windscreen wipers on parked cars in a street near the MCG.
Oliver has played 162 matches for the Dees, including 127 in a row between 2017 and 2023, with his 12-week absence due to a hamstring injury in 2023 his longest period on the sidelines since making his debut in 2016.
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He starred in the Demons’ drought-breaking 2021 premiership win, winning the Keith ‘Bluey’ Truscott Medal as the club’s best and fairest for the third of four times, and is a three-time All-Australian and two-time AFL Coaches Association Champion Player recipient.