Brodie Grundy's Melbourne future is up in the air but defender Jake Lever has hailed the out-of-favour ruckman's commitment to an AFL finals campaign he might not play in.
Melbourne's gamble on recruiting former Magpie Grundy over the off-season and partnering him with captain Max Gawn has had patchy results.
The pair have played separately and as a ruck pairing but Grundy has featured just once since round 17 and been sent to the VFL to focus on his forward craft.
The 29-year-old appears unlikely to be recalled for Thursday's qualifying final against former club Collingwood at the MCG and has been linked with an off-season move to Port Adelaide.
But if Grundy has one foot out the door, it's not coming across on the training track.
"It's a business world, we understand that. And Brodie isn't in the side at the minute," Lever said on Monday.
"But to Brodie's credit, I want to put it out there that he has been a Melbourne person through and through, through this time.
"The disappointment of getting dropped and then going back to play VFL, you can sit there and sympathise with him but he hasn't sooked once.
"He comes to training. He wants to get better. He wants to get back in the side and selection's up this week and there's nothing off the table.
"To Brodie's credit, he comes in every day wanting to get better. He's still a Melbourne person right now."
Lever stressed Gawn wouldn't be hitting the finals in form without Grundy's work.
"I've just loved the way that he's been able to handle this ... to come in and really put his ego aside and want to help Max, especially, but anyone that comes and trains," Lever said.
"He tests Max out every week and that's what has helped Max in the last couple of weeks, someone that comes to training and does his best.
"Whatever happens at the end of the year happens, but right now I'm just proud of what Brodie's been able to do in the face of adversity."
Lever expected Bayley Fritsch (foot) and Michael Hibberd (concussion) to be fit to face the Magpies.
The 2021 premiership defender, who was already contracted for next season, has re-signed for an additional four years through to the end of 2028.
"I love the club, so it wasn't really a hard decision," Lever said.
"I'm 27 years old, so I feel like there's a lot of good years ahead of me."