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Well any notion Port Adelaide can sneak into eighth spot and play finals football is officially over. Last Thursday’s 22 point loss to Hawthorn put a cross against Port Adelaide’s name and finals participation. While it was hoped the Power would bounce back in 2016 after a learning curve in 2015, everything that could go wrong has appeared too for Port Adelaide this year and it will be fascinating how Ken Hinkley treats the remaining games of the season. One question will be whether some youngsters on the list deserve an opportunity to show what they can do at AFL level between now and the end of the season.
Jesse Palmer is one name that should be in the selection frame. He has developed nicely since being drafted with pick 78 in the 2014 draft and has been a regular contributor at SANFL level for the last two seasons playing primarily as a medium sized forward . The 19 year old played arguably his best game of the season against West Adelaide last Saturday kicking 3 goals and collecting 23 disposals. Palmer is contracted until the end of next season and while he has been an emergency at AFL level previously it is surely only a matter of time until he gets his AFL chance.
While the Port Adelaide forward-line at AFL level has shown glimpses of form there is certainly room for another player who can impact the scoreboard. Charlie Dixon, Aaron Young and Chad Wingard the only players who have kicked over 20 goals this year.
Jake Neade appears to be the player most at risk of losing his spot in the side. While many hoped the round 11 game against Collingwood in which Neade kicked 4 goals would be the catalyst for Neade to have a strong second half of the season it has unfortunately not transpired. Neade has failed to kick a goal in the last three matches, and in the last two matches picked up less than 10 touches.
Jake Neade has played all 15 games this season but has not kicked a goal in 9 of them. While many admire Neade’s pressure on the opposition he only laid one tackle against Hawthorn and spending time both forward and through midfield requires some type of real output to justify selection.
Injury and suspension has certainly hit Port Adelaide hard in 2016 and other players will be available for selection in the coming weeks including the experienced Tom Jonas and Matthew Lobbe. Matt White is also ready to resume since injury in round 1 of the year. While depth has been questioned at Port Adelaide this season the last two weeks in particular at SANFL level should see more players putting their name up for selection such as Jimmy Toumpas, Sam Gray and dare I say John Butcher?
Many feel a strength of Ken Hinkley is the trust and faith he puts in his players. But many who let him down last season have done so again in 2016. Is there anything to lose by giving some youngsters an opportunity? Port Adelaide fans need some excitement and someone who can take a mark and kick a goal like Jesse Palmer may just be the tonic.