MELBOURNE forward Harley Balic must continue to work on some key fundamentals in his game before he becomes eligible for senior selection, coach Simon Goodwin says.
The former Docker is yet to debut for his new team after requesting a trade back to Victoria at the end of last season, however Goodwin said Balic has been building into form in the VFL in recent weeks.
Balic, 21, started the year on fire with six goals in his first game for Casey against Coburg in April, but was limited over a two-week patch in May where he battled a plantar fascia issue in his foot.
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"(Harley's) improving his game. We're playing him in the forward half and he's starting to have some impact," Goodwin said this week.
"He's still got a few things fundamentally that we're working on within his game but he's on the improve."
Playing as a permanent forward, Balic has averaged 17.3 disposals and kicked 16 goals in nine matches for Casey this season.
"He's stringing together a good block of training and some good games too," Goodwin said.
The depth of Melbourne's small and medium-sized forwards, with Charlie Spargo, Mitch Hannan, Bayley Fritsch, Dean Kent and Jeff Garlett all playing through there this year, is another reason why Balic has found it tough to push his way into the side.
Balic, who stands at 187cm and 82kg, signed a one-year contract to join the Demons with Melbourne parting with pick No.66 in last year's Draft to acquire him.
It is likely the Demons will wait until late in the season before beginning any meaningful contract negotiations with Balic and his management, although how the young forward fares in the latter half of the season will be a determining factor in whether he wins an extension.
The youngster, originally selected by the Dockers with pick No.38 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, played four AFL matches for Fremantle in 2017.
Balic battled homesickness and some mental health issues in his two seasons at the Dockers, with a hamstring injury hindering his 2017 campaign and a serious wrist injury wiping out much of his 2016 season.
Balic told AFL.com.au prior to the start of the 2018 season that he was far more comfortable living back in Victoria.
"I know I can play AFL football, it was just about getting my head right," Balic said in January.
"Now that I've done that I don't see any reason why I can't (play at the highest level). I'd like to play as soon as possible… and play good footy for this club."
Melbourne will take on Balic's former side Fremantle at TIO Stadium in Darwin on Saturday night, with the youngster set to press his claims for selection in Saturday's clash between Casey and North Melbourne at Casey Fields.