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Jarrad Waite has made his comeback with the Northern Blues

CARLTON forward Jarrad Waite was held goalless in his return from a calf injury in the VFL on Sunday, but he should take confidence out of the performance, according to Northern Blues coach Luke Webster.

Waite took six marks, including an impressive contested grab, in the Blues' loss to Port Melbourne, playing four quarters with limited minutes at Preston City Oval.

The 30-year-old moved well in his first game since suffering the calf injury that halted his pre-season, but his strong leads weren't always rewarded and he finished the game with 11 disposals.

"It's a tough one coming back and he'd been out for a while," Webster said after the Blues' first loss for the VFL season.  

"I thought he presented pretty well and we probably didn't kick it to him a couple of times when we should have used him.

"It's a good one for him to tick off and he steps forward for next week.

"I think he should take some confidence out of that; the first one back is sometimes pretty hard."

Webster said Waite's game time was limited to make sure he got through four quarters, but the important forward would look to increase his minutes next week.

Whether that is at VFL level, or with Carlton in its clash against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday, is not decided.
  
"Next week he'll go for a run and keep building on his game time and keep building on his fitness," Webster said.  

Dylan Buckley (16 disposals and two goals) and Tom Bell (23 and three) were strong contributors for the Blues, as well as David Ellard, who laid 10 tackles.

Webster said Port Melbourne's spread and work rate in the midfield was the difference in the match.  

Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_Nathan