Watts takes steps toward AFL return

Melbourne coach Paul Roos says Jack Watts’ performance for Casey Scorpions at the weekend was a step in the right direction for the out-of-form forward.

After a string of indifferent efforts at AFL level, Watts asked to go back to the VFL to regain some touch rather than play against Hawthorn on Saturday.

The former No.1 draft pick gathered 24 disposals, took eight marks and kicked a goal to be named in the Scorpions’ best players in their 23-point loss to Port Melbourne.

Melbourne have managed to score just 50 points in each of their last three matches – against Fremantle, Sydney and the Hawks – which all resulted in heavy losses and Roos admitted he was keen to get Watts back into his forward mix sooner rather than later.

“As much negative stuff as you hear about Wattsy … what the weekend showed was that we need Jack Watts playing and we need him playing well because he gives us something that we don’t have,” Roos said on Wednesday.

“And that’s an incredible footy IQ, really good skills and really good decision-making.

“I was really happy with the way that he played on the weekend. He got a bit of a bounce in his step and he was really positive today.

“He really said that he enjoyed it, so in terms of selection we’ll touch on that this afternoon and tomorrow.”

The 15th-placed Demons are ranked 18th in the competition for scoring after seven rounds and haven’t broken the 100-point barrier since their season-opening win against Gold Coast.

Former Collingwood key forward Chris Dawes has kicked just three goals in his five matches and Roos revealed he was still struggling with the calf injury that delayed his start to the season.

“There’s just things he can’t do in a game, which obviously he wants to do,” he said.

“He seems to be trending down rather than up and we really need to keep an eye on that.”

While Dawes’ spot is in some doubt, boom youngster Jesse Hogan will return to bolster Melbourne’s attack against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday after a week out with general soreness.

Classy midfielder Christian Salem will miss up to a month with the hamstring injury he suffered against the Hawks.

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