North Melbourne players look dejected after a loss during round 10, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos/Getty Images

ALASTAIR Clarkson insists morale remains high among his winless troops and North Melbourne is edging closer to its first victory of the season.

The Kangaroos face another tough task in Hobart on Saturday, against fourth-placed Yartapuulti, which is likely to be bolstered by the return from injury of star midfielder Connor Rozee.

Kangaroos co-captain Jy Simpkin also won't play until after next week's bye following several setbacks that have pushed back his recovery from a quad complaint.

The North faithful continues to be tested with the side losing by an average of 51.4 points, but Clarkson said there were positives to draw from their 40-point defeat by Essendon last round.

North matched the second-placed Bombers in the first half but their rivals booted eight goals in the third quarter to set up the win.

"We would have loved to continue on that competitiveness in the third quarter but Essendon are a good side," Clarkson said.


"We were pleased that we were competitive as we won two of the quarters against a good side, albeit not by much but it's a positive step forward for us.

"We were in the game at half-time so that was pleasing but the challenge is to do it for longer and that's the challenge against a really good side in Port Adelaide.

"If we can continue to give ourselves a chance in games then it gives us confidence that a win might not be too far away."

Clarkson said rather than mindset it was the squad's youth, a lack of "synergy" in the line-up and also being able to implement the gameplan which was behind their inability to put together four quarters.

Alastair Clarkson before the match between St Kilda and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium in round eight, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

He said the effort and morale remained high.

"We can't question it, their willingness to come into the club to try to get better," the four-time premiership coach said.

"Nothing has dropped off in terms of their training ... the culture of the place is strong and the morale is great."

Clarkson said the luckless Brayden George (shoulder) and midfielder Hugh Greenwood (Achilles) are available again.

Key defender Kallan Dawson will return from his ankle injury via the VFL after six weeks out.