PATRICK Dangerfield has urged Geelong’s young midfielders to step-up and fill the void left by Tim Kelly’s return to Western Australia.
Runner-up to Dangerfield in this year’s best-and-fairest, Kelly averaged 24 possessions and five clearances across his 48 matches in the Hoops.
“The door’s open,” Dangerfield said as he faced the media after signing a three-year contract extension.
“Tim’s left, and he’ll be a wonderful player for West Coast.
“But it gives other players opportunities, and that’s what pre-season is about.”
Dangerfield is confident several players could fill the breach.
“We saw some really big improvements last year from Charlie Constable, Lachie Fogarty wants to play more in the midfield, I know that, Jack (Steven) has come across from St Kilda,” he said.
“And then there will be the natural progression that we’ll see from guys like Sam Simpson, who didn’t play AFL footy last year, but his second half of the (VFL) year was really strong.
“I see a really bright future with what he’s going to be able to contribute to our team, and the way that he’s come back and the nick he’s in is exceptional.
“So there’s a lot of midfielders and a lot of young up-and-coming midfielders on our team.
“There’s a spot there; it’s your opportunity to grab it. That’s the message from us.”
Dangerfield is also hoping, like everyone else in the football world, that Nakia Cockatoo can add to his 34 games, having not appeared at AFL level since injuring his knee in Round 3 of the 2018 season.
“We’ve just got to make sure we get him through the pre-season, he’s fit and healthy, and he’s able to play and be available for selection because we know what he’s capable of doing,” Dangerfield said.
“And the challenge for him, and for us, is just to make sure we prepare him the best we possibly can because the payoff is there if we can get him right.”