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Untried Cat likened to Cripps could join jam-packed midfield

Charlie Constable is yet to make his AFL debut - AFL,Geelong Cats,Charlie Constable
Charlie Constable is yet to make his AFL debut

AN UNTRIED midfielder likened to Patrick Cripps and Jobe Watson has been identified by Geelong as one player set to jostle for a spot in a jam-packed onball brigade for 2019.  

Inside ball-winner Charlie Constable, 19, described by Chris Scott as "excruciatingly close" to a debut in round one last year, has impressed in his first four weeks back at pre-season training.  

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Now 12 months on, Cats assistant Matthew Knights has declared the 191cm big-bodied midfielder ready to turn up the heat on his senior teammates for the season opener.  

"His ability to win the ball and distribute to his teammates with a beautiful handball is a skill that I think is underrated in the modern game," Knights said.

"You see great players in the past whether it be a Jobe Watson or a Cameron Ling or even a Patrick Cripps, the way they win the ball and put their teammates into space.

"I think that's one of Charlie's big parts of his game and also his kicking is very precise. Ninety per cent of the time if he's got the ball, he's going to find a target with his kicking.

"To have someone that can win the ball but also has excellent skills is a really good tonic for us but he's no guarantee (for) a spot.  

"He's still got to work for it and show that he's capable at AFL level but he's showing good signs at the moment." 

With Tim Kelly returning to duty after his trade request to West Coast was denied, the Cats' midfield appears full alongside the 'Holy Trinity' of Joel Selwood, Gary Ablett and Patrick Dangerfield.  

However, with Selwood's flexibility only set to increase and Ablett tipped to spend more time in attack in 2019, Knights has left the door ajar for fresh faces.  

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"I think Brandan Parfitt and Charlie Constable have presented in really good condition, the way they're moving across the ground," Knights said.

"Both of those guys will be pressing for midfield spots, I've got no doubt.  

"Part of our development of that midfield group is we've got to get the likes of Constable, Parfitt, (Lachie) Fogarty into the midfield to give us a bit of a different look.  

"We need the younger guys coming through and really taking the game on." 

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Parfitt managed 19 games last year predominantly across half-forward, while Fogarty notched 15 games as a small forward while battling groin and calf setbacks.  

Throw in Quinton Narkle, who was used as a centre bounce specialist for parts of his debut season and the potential return of injury-plagued bull Nakia Cockatoo, the Cats could have a different look in 2019.

"It would only be a fair point there were a number of opposition midfielders ahead of us last season in a few facets of the game," Knights said.  

"We've really thrown it open to see which group of players line up in the midfield for round one.  

"We're chasing, there's no doubt about that. We should’ve performed better as a midfield group last year (2018)."

While Knights highlighted contested ball, transition and locking the ball into the forward 50 as three facets to improve, he was relishing the prospect of a fully fit Dangerfield.

Splitting more time in attack in the first half of 2018, Dangerfield appears back to his best in his first fortnight back on the track.  

"There's no question with the back ailment and the interruptions he had, he'd be the first to say it hindered his play at times," Knights said.  

"He's come back in amazing shape. Some of his explosion in the drills we've been doing and the capacity to get around guys and feed his teammates has been awesome so far."