NORTH Melbourne is set to unleash former Hawk Jed Anderson against his former side on Sunday despite the tough midfielder not playing a pre-season match.
Anderson (hamstring), Sam Wright (quad), last week's late withdrawal Trent Dumont (calf tightness), Paul Ahern and Mason Wood are all likely to be named in the Roos' 26-man squad on Thursday night.
They need only to safely negotiate Thursday's training session at Arden St to push their case to be part of North's attempt to lodge its first win of the season.
However, defender Marley Williams will miss at least this week's game and likely others after scans revealed his ankle injury was worse than initially suspected.
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Coach Brad Scott's confidence in Anderson's ability to perform first-up from an injury stems from last year when, after a broken hand interrupted his pre-season, he was still picked for round one.
The 46-gamer responded with a breakout season that possibly saved his AFL career, and he is now an important part of the Kangaroos' midfield unit.
"That's a big boost for us to get those guys back," Scott told reporters.
"We've really missed Jed Anderson's presence in the midfield and his pressure and his hardness, so we'll have a decision to make as to what the final 22 will look like.
"But certainly, Wright in to replace Marley Williams and Anderson and Dumont bolster our midfield a little bit, then the make-up of that final 22 we'll whittle down from the 26 we name tonight."
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Out-of-sorts forward Jy Simpkin is likely to retain his spot, which may leave players such as Luke McDonald, last week's debutant Tarryn Thomas and recruit Dom Tyson vulnerable.
"Jy's had a fantastic pre-season (and) he's really fit … so the challenge for him is that we often say good preparation leads to good performance but that's not necessarily in a straight line," Scott said.
"I showed him a dozen examples where he did exactly what we wanted him to do (but) the ball bounces the wrong way, he gets caught out of position.
"Jy could have had a really, really good game at the weekend but sometimes it's the lot of the small forward … I'm really confident it's going to turn for Jy really soon."
One of the major issues Scott and his coaching team needs to solve is North's centre-bounce problems, which saw it concede 43 points to Brisbane in last week's loss.
"I've been sorry (about the new '6-6-6' starting positions) for the last fortnight, but for the big picture of the game, I'm really excited about it," the coach said.
"I think that footy looks great. The objective of the rule was to make the game look better without the fans really noticing exactly why.
"The game's more spread out than it's ever been and I think that's a good thing for AFL footy. For North Melbourne's sake, we've got to adjust quicker than we have in the first two rounds.
"(But) there were some really good signs at the weekend … if we won that game by 20 points, we'd be talking about a whole lot of the positives."
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Meanwhile, defender Majak Daw (pelvis/hips) continues to make encouraging progress, stepping out with his teammates for training on Thursday.
Daw was involved in light kicking drills, took shots at goal and practised his marking.