MATTHEW Watson thought his AFL career might have been over at times during a difficult 2014 season.

Watson started last year well enough, winning selection in the Blues' round one side that took on Port Adelaide at Etihad Stadium.

But things quickly soured from there.

The key defender was dropped to the VFL after Carlton's 33-point loss to the Power, and with Michael Jamison and Sam Rowe playing well in the Blues' key defensive posts soon became stuck there.

Watson finally earned a recall when Lachie Henderson was a late withdrawal ahead of the Blues' round 13 clash with Hawthorn.

But that game more than any other made 2010's No.18 draft pickquestion whether he was going to make it at AFL level.

Starting in defence, Watson endured a tough first half as the Hawks continually peppered the ball into their forward 50.

His worst moment came midway through the first term when he missed an attempted short pass to Andrew Walker and Hawk Isaac Smith pounced on the loose ball to set up a Cyril Rioli goal.

Watson was moved into attack in the third term as Carlton stormed back from an 18-point half-time deficit to hit the front.

The former Calder Cannon had a chance to put the Blues 13 points up late in that term when he marked on the lead about 25m from goal on a slight angle.

But he pulled his set shot for a behind and was substituted out of the match soon after, watching from the bench as the Hawks rallied to win by 28 points.

Watson's name was missing when Carlton's round 14 team was announced six days later, relegated to the VFL yet again.

It was the low-point of a tough season.

"At times last year I thought maybe [my career] might be finishing up because I was playing VFL still and it was my fourth year," Watson told from Carlton's Mt Buller training camp this week.

"There were times I thought it might be the end, especially after that Hawthorn game.

"I just didn't take the opportunity that night, which was frustrating, and I just didn't feel I had taken my game to the next level consistently.

"At that stage my confidence was down and I wasn't sure how I was going to turn things around."

After the Hawthorn loss, Watson had to endure another long stint in the VFL.

But his year suddenly turned around when he was moved into attack in the Northern Blues' round 13 VFL match against Collingwood.

Playing alongside briefly out-of-favour Carlton teammate Jarrad Waite, Watson kicked three goals to help the Northern Blues to an 18-point win.

He kicked another three goals against North Ballarat the following week and, after going goalless the next three rounds, earned a senior recall in round 23 against Essendon following consecutive three-goal hauls against Port Melbourne and Box Hill.

Watson lined up in attack against the Bombers and quickly made an impact, kicking the game's opening goal and the last before quarter-time as the Blues stormed to a 30-point lead.

He added another two goals before the wildly fluctuating contest finished in a draw, his four majors two more than any other player on the ground could manage.

It was a great boost to Watson's confidence. Just weeks earlier he had thought 2014 would never end, now he wished it could go on for at least another few weeks.

Matthew Watson on his bike at the Blues' Mt Buller training camp. Picture: AFL Media

"The move forward kind of gave me a fresh start and I was able to start enjoying my footy again," Watson said.

"Especially in the first couple of games you've pretty much got nothing to lose, you go in there, you haven't played forward for a while, and you're happy just to take your mind off everything and just go out and play footy.

"That's what I needed to do – the backline wasn't really working out for me – and it worked out well for those last few weeks.

"It was good to finish the year off with a bit of confidence, to know that I can play at senior level and contribute to the team.

"I was wishing there was another couple of rounds or so left so I could keep going, but hopefully I can bring that form into this year."

Having made the switch into attack, Watson has no intention of turning back.

He has trained with the Blues' forward line group all pre-season, working hard with forwards coach Brad Green and fellow talls Henderson, Levi Casboult and Liam Jones to familiarise himself with Carlton's leading patterns and forward set-ups.

Given the Blues' deep key-forward stocks – ruckman Matthew Kreuzer and utility Kristian Jaksch are also likely to spend time there in 2015 – Watson is looking no further ahead than the Blues' opening NAB Challenge game against West Coast in Mandurah on February 27.

From there, he hopes to play in the Blues' remaining two pre-season games against Collingwood and Geelong, and mount his case for round one selection.

Having not played consecutive senior games last year, Watson believes a full NAB Challenge campaign can bolster the confidence he rediscovered at the end of last season and propel him to a breakthrough 2015.

The 22-year-old comes out of contract at the end of this season but is no longer thinking about his football mortality.

"Maybe towards mid-year I might think about it but at the moment I'm just focused on training and getting a game in the senior team, that's the main thing for me," Watson says.

"I'm in my fifth year now, it's gone quickly and it's starting to come to the edge I guess.

"I've learnt a lot so far in my five years and I'm just trying to put that all together this year.

"I'm just trying to do whatever I can."