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A DECISION on Chris Dawes' future at Melbourne won't be made until the end of the season.

The lucrative four-year deal Dawes signed when he crossed from Collingwood in the 2012 trade period is set to expire at the end of this year.

AFL.com.au understands Melbourne and Dawes' manager, Ben Niall, agreed at the start of this year to delay contract talks until the end of the season, allowing the key forward to focus on overcoming the injury problems that dogged his first three seasons at the club and rediscovering his best form.

Dawes had a delayed start to 2016 because of a calf injury, but has largely enjoyed a good run of health since he returned to the field with Melbourne’s VFL team Casey Scorpions in early May.

Dawes is believed to be keen to extend his career at the Demons and accepts any new contract will involve a sizeable pay cut from the $500,000 a season he reportedly earns under his existing deal.

At 28, the 2010 premiership player is confident he has plenty of good football left in him.

He made an encouraging senior return when he was recalled for the Demons' round 11 clash against Hawthorn, but played just four games before he was dropped after a disappointing performance in the round 15 loss to Adelaide.

Dawes has not played since – Melbourne's affiliate Casey had a bye in round 16 and the forward missed last week's game after suffering a back spasm – but he is expected to return this weekend.

Melbourne's forward stocks are a lot healthier than when Dawes first arrived at the club, with Jesse Hogan, Jack Watts, Cameron Pedersen and first-year spearhead Sam Weideman now among their tall options.

However, Melbourne coach Paul Roos said last Friday there was still a senior spot for Dawes if he played the way he had against the Hawks.

"When he probably first came back into the team, that's the way we want him to play," Roos said.

"I guess I've said, which has been positive for us all along, this year there's less margin for error. In previous seasons guys like 'Dawesy' and other guys like 'Buggy' (Tom Bugg) and (Ben) Kennedy when they went back (they) would have probably stayed in the team.

"But if he plays the way he did in the VFL and I think in the first game back in the seniors then he'll get back in the team."

When asked whether he envisaged Dawes being part of the Demons' best 22 beyond this year, Roos said others at Melbourne would make that decision given his impending departure as senior coach.

Dawes has played 48 games and kicked 44 goals in his three-and-a-half seasons with Melbourne, but often carried injuries in his early days at the Demons because they were so undermanned in attack.

Dawes spent 2007-12 at Collingwood, kicking 83 goals from 71 games. He played in all of the Magpies' 10 finals from 2010-12, including the 2010 and 2011 Grand Finals.