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North targets talent

Marc McGowan - AFL.com.au  September 11, 2017 8:42 AM

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In-demand Greater Western Sydney jet Josh Kelly is the prime target in North Melbourne coach Brad Scott's plan to reinvent his side's midfield.

Scott has again addressed the Kangaroos' interest in Kelly and their failed bid to lure Richmond superstar Dustin Martin, as well as hinting at his interest in Collingwood big man Mason Cox.

Kelly, a first-time All Australian this season, is North's No.1 recruiting focus since Martin's decision last week to stay at Punt Rd.

The Roos' first attempt at the 22-year-old came five years ago, when they tried unsuccessfully to trade into the mini-draft that saw Jack Martin and Jesse Hogan join Gold Coast and Melbourne respectively.

"We would have taken Josh Kelly with one of those picks, so we've liked him for a very, very long time," Scott said on Channel 9's Future Stars program.

"But, a bit like Dustin Martin, he's had his best-ever season the year we're interested, so that's certainly driven up the trade price and certainly the remuneration for the players involved.

"I don't get too involved in the financial side of it, but more in terms of the list build and the sort of players that we need.

"We identified some midfielders we wanted to strengthen our midfield, because we have some really strong inside talent, but we wanted to get some more outside run – and, clearly, Josh is that type of player."

North was one of several clubs that auditioned Cox before he joined Collingwood ahead of the 2015 season. The out-of-contract 211cm ruck-forward has reportedly drawn interest from the Brisbane Lions, Hawthorn and Richmond.

Scott, with Cox listening only metres away, said North was "still in the market for another ruck" despite already having a big man logjam in Todd Goldstein, Braydon Preuss and Majak Daw.

"We were very keen to acquire Mason. I remember that trial very well and he performed really well. I still think Mason would have found a niche in our team," Scott said.

"There's a lot talked about our rucks, but really we have only three of them and you can debate whether Majak's best position is ruck or forward."

Goldstein is contracted at Arden St through 2019, but is the subject of extensive trade speculation because of an underwhelming season and Preuss' emergence.

"Goldy, by his own standards, had a poor season and he would be the first to admit that, but his best footy is still in front of him," Scott said.

"We understand it's going to be a challenge to try and work the balance.

"But we'll keep trying to do that and understand that other clubs will be looking at ruckmen (and) they'd be looking at players like Mason Cox and Braydon Preuss and Todd Goldstein."