North Melbourne has expressed interest in Port Adelaide tall Dougal Howard, as the Telstra AFL Trade Period officially gets underway.

“Dougal is someone that we’ve been looking at,” coach Rhyce Shaw confirmed.

“Obviously he’s contracted to Port Adelaide, so a lot has to play out there.”

At 199cm Howard has played 45 games across four seasons with Port Adelaide, and can play at either end of the ground. 

His inclusion would fill a void left by Scott Thompson.

“We need a key back and Dougal obviously fits that mould,” Shaw said.

“He’s a very good player, and we’re looking to fill that spot down back, so that would be the primary spot for him.

“He’s weighing up his options at the moment, as a lot of players are, and we’ll just see how it pans out.”

Shaw said the club had interest in Sydney small forward Tom Papley, but expected him to join a rival club.

“I think Tom nominated Carlton, so I don’t see that changing. I haven’t heard anything else different,” he said.

“We’ll just see how it happens and we’ll look to fill a need down there (forward) as well. That’s another area we are looking at.”

Shaw expected North to focus much of its attention on growing its exciting crop of youngsters.

“At this stage we’ll be pretty quiet (during the trade period),” he added.

“I’m really looking forward to the draft combine. The other day was really good and really exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can get in.”