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Watts happening? No guarantee for round one

Ben Guthrie  March 21, 2017 9:36 AM

AFL 2017 Media - Melbourne Team Photo Day

Simon Goodwin won't guarantee that Jack Watts will play against Saints

MELBOURNE coach Simon Goodwin has refused to guarantee Jack Watts' spot in the team for the club's round one clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Watts was overlooked for the Demons' first two JLT Community Series games after displaying poor training standards over pre-season before he returned for the final match against West Coast.

The skilful forward pressed his claims for selection with two goals from 17 disposals, as well as taking five marks in a VFL practice match for the Casey Demons at the weekend.

"We've got some selection things we've got to go through later in the week and Wattsy's in the mix, as is Dean Kent, Jeff Garlett and Joel Smith," Goodwin said at his press conference on Tuesday.

"That's something we'll discuss pretty heavily at match committee, getting the balance right between the tall forward line and a slightly smaller one.

"He (Watts) is slowly improving, he's getting better, which is pleasing. He's had a good training block and he's on the improve and we've got some decisions to make around how our forward line shapes up."

Goodwin said he would have little issue with selecting Garlett despite his lack of match practice after he injured his hamstring in the club's first pre-season game against the Western Bulldogs.

The small forward had 10 disposals and kicked two goals, while his pressure in the forward line also stood out in the practice match for Casey.

"He's had a really good 10-day block of training and the game. We're more than comfortable with where his conditioning is at and he performed strongly on the weekend."

Dom Tyson (18 disposals) and Dean Kent (12 touches) and rookie Joel Smith (16 disposals, one goal) also put their names in the selection equation, Goodwin said, after overcoming knee, back and toe injuries respectively.

The Demons match committee is weighing up whether to take ruckman Jake Spencer into the clash to support All Australian Max Gawn.

Goodwin said Melbourne's woeful recent record against St Kilda was irrelevant to the round one clash.

The Demons have lost 14 straight games against the Saints, with their last win in 2006.

"If people think we're thinking about the track record or history against St Kilda then they're wrong," Goodwin said.

He said the clash against the Saints – with both teams tipped to take significant steps up the ladder in 2017 – would provide an accurate assessment of where the club was placed.

"It's exciting for both clubs. There's two teams that are emerging and have had really good summers," he said.

"It's been something we've been looking forward to for a long time now and we can't wait to get into Saturday afternoon."