KEN HINKLEY wants Sam Powell-Pepper to be part of Port Adelaide's finals campaign, despite axing the underperforming star as his side seeks to secure a top-four spot with a victory over Carlton.
Port's equation in the last fortnight of the regular season is simple after their scrappy Showdown triumph.
Hinkley's side can finish as high as first if other results fall their way, but four more premiership points will mean they bank a double chance in finals.
The Power sign off the home-and-away season with a finals-like test against Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium, meaning they can ill-afford slipping up against the Blues at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.
Hinkley admits there was a lot about his team that "was not at the level we would like it to be" during a four-point win over Adelaide.
Port's best 22 far from settled.
Powell-Pepper will miss his first game since round seven, when the 23-year-old marked his AFL comeback after taking leave in March for personal reasons.
"Sam's form hasn't been at the level - in his own mind - that would be what he is satisfied with," Hinkley told reporters in Adelaide.
"He just hasn't been able to influence the game like he would normally.
"Sam's greatest asset to us is his ability to hunt and get after the opposition - put an enormous amount of physical and implied pressure on.
"He hasn't quite been able to get that job done at the level he would like, and we need it to be."
Hinkley added Powell-Pepper was "absolutely" in the mix to play finals.
"It is not something we do lightly ... he is a very valuable part of our team in its best shape," he said.
"But you also need to play at your best form."
Carlton, already missing key players Harry McKay and Liam Jones, revealed on Friday that Jack Martin had suffered a hamstring injury and would miss the rest of the season.
However, there will be heightened emotions for the Blues this weekend.
David Teague's coaching fate hangs in the balance, while the club will be determined to celebrate former captain Marc Murphy's 300th and final game.
"It's a great effort ... we just went through that with Travis Boak," Hinkley said.
"We know what that will mean to Carlton.
"We respect that, wish him all the best, but we don't want him to win.
LADDER PREDICTOR Where will your club finish?
"We've got our first chance to absolutely lock in a top-four spot ... we're hopeful we can qualify higher than that.
"But we need to make sure we get this week done first."