COVETED Port Adelaide swingman Dougal Howard appeals to North Melbourne as retired defender Scott Thompson's replacement, coach Rhyce Shaw says. reported a fortnight ago that Kangaroos, Essendon and St Kilda had met with Howard, who is contracted until 2022, and his management.

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Collingwood has also made preliminary inquiries about the 23-year-old's intentions, but he is yet to request a trade. 

Howard played out the season in the SANFL and is now seen mostly as a forward at the Power after previously being predominantly a defender.

Thompson's retirement leaves Robbie Tarrant as North's sole experienced tall defender, with Majak Daw, Sam Durdin, Ben McKay and Ed Vickers-Willis the club's other options.

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"We need a key back and Dougal, obviously, fits that mould for us but there are a couple of other players in that area we might have a look at," Shaw said.

"We're looking to fill that need down back, so that will be the primary spot for him (if he played for the Roos).

"He's weighing up his options, as a lot of players are, and we'll just see how it pans out. I can't comment anymore, because that's where it sits – he's contracted to Port Adelaide."

Saints football boss Simon Lethlean (pictured) also confirmed his club was "certainly" interested in Howard if he seeks a move elsewhere.

As opposed to Shaw, Lethlean is open about Howard filling a key-position role at either end, rather than just in defence.

"If Dougal wants to come to the Saints, he fits in as a key position – whether that's back or forward," Lethlean said.

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"He can probably play as a swingman as well, so he'd fit nicely with (Jake) Carlisle, (Max) King and others. He's a pretty impressive player and kid.

"He's captained his club this year, so it shows the leadership he's got. He'd be a good get if he wants to come to Victoria, but I don't think he's decided yet."

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