Oliver returns to training with Melbourne teammates

Steve Larkin |

Clayton Oliver has trained with his Melbourne teammates for the first time since December.
Clayton Oliver has trained with his Melbourne teammates for the first time since December.

Melbourne’s four-time club champion Clayton Oliver has returned to training with his AFL teammates after an extended period of leave to deal with personal issues.

Oliver’s return on Wednesday comes after the ace midfielder battled injuries and medical problems last year, as well as facing questions over his off-field behaviour.

He hadn’t trained with teammates since December 18 when he left a team camp in Lorne to deal with medical issues.

“Fundamentally it’s just great to have Clayton back,” Melbourne’s football boss Alan Richardson said.

“And it’s great to see him with a smile on his face and feeling better.

“He has done a lot of training himself.

“He’s basically been in the hands of his medical team and that has gone really well for us. More importantly, it has gone well for Clayton.”

Oliver is yet to return to full training.

“He’ll still be doing ball work; but on the side, in the rehab group,” Richardson said.

“We’ll have to make sure we bring him up to speed from an educational point of view with any of the adjustments we have made to our game plan.”

In January, Richardson released a statement saying Oliver “has personal issues that he has been dealing with”.

Melbourne Demons AFL player Clayton Oliver.
A fit and healthy Clayton Oliver (centre) remains a key part of Simon Goodwin’s plans at Melbourne. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

Oliver’s professionalism was repeatedly questioned in 2023 amid doubts over his future at Melbourne.

The triple All-Australian was restricted to 15 games last season because of a hamstring injury but returned before finals, when the Demons made a second consecutive straight-sets exit.

Oliver was later the subject of trade speculation despite being under contract until 2030 after signing a massive seven-year extension.

Melbourne ultimately did not put him on the trade table but coach Simon Goodwin and chief executive Gary Pert made it clear the midfielder needed to adhere to the Demons’ standards.

Melbourne’s culture has been under fire amid Oliver’s troubles, plus utility Joel Smith’s provisional suspension for recording a positive in-season drugs test to cocaine.

Oliver was pulled over by police on November 16 and charged with driving with a suspended licence.

He has been unable to drive on medical grounds since he was hospitalised following a seizure on October 12, which he partially attributed to side effects from his ADHD medication.

Oliver is due to face court on February 6.