Photo: Steve Remy

Selection pressure breeds success at both AFL and VFL level, and with both of North Melbourne’s teams performing well in their respective divisions, the pressure is on for those currently in the senior side to maintain their spots.

With the likes of Charlie Lazzaro and Tom Campbell pushing for senior recalls, and Charlie Comben, Phoenix Spicer and Patrick Walker in the mix for debuts, it’s imperative players perform at reserve level to earn an AFL opportunity.

With Eddie Ford making his starting debut against Geelong in Round 20, David Noble says the selection pressure within North’s list is a good problem to have.

“The one we really liked that we think will probably stay in the side is Eddie Ford. We really liked his game last week and we’re pretty sure we’re able to maintain him in the team,” Noble said.

“Charlie (Comben) won’t be making his debut this week, [but] his form’s been terrific, and there’s a bunch of guys down there as well.

“Patty Walker’s been really good in the last month, Phoenix Spicer, we’ve got three or four down there who are really continuing to put some pressure on.”

08:07 Mins
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David Noble media conference (August 5, 2021)

David Noble speaks with the media via Zoom before our main training session for the week.

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While Comben is yet to experience senior football, he’s quickly proving his quality after his long injury layoff and is already turning into a problem for defenders at reserve level.

With he and mid-season draftee Jacob Edwards both currently gaining experience in the VFL, Noble says the club is making the most of having the pair available.

“We really like the look of [Edwards] and Charlie Comben up forward. The two talls there with Nick Larkey in good form at the moment, our tall stocks look like they’re in a pretty good position,” he said.

“The difficulty we’ve had with him (Edwards) is the protocols with school and Covid we haven’t been able to have him in regularly. The times we’ve been able to get him in for training he’s been really diligent.

“We’re really excited about his capacity to learn and improve. He’s a really driven and determined young man that wants to make his mark … with us.”

Kicking 15 goals in his last four games, including a bag of seven against Carlton, North’s current main key forward, Larkey, is currently in the best form of his young career.

Despite taking on the opposition’s best defender most weeks, the improvement in his game across 2021 has been immense.

“He’s (Larkey) continued to work really hard at his craft … he’s just continued to try and do his homework on his opponent each week,” Noble said.

“We’ve loved the way he’s gone about his work. We actually think some of his defensive pressure as a forward, which is pretty crucial nowadays, has been a really fundamental part of his game.

“One of the things I’ve mentioned before is our ball movement has helped him a bit. We’ve been more consistent in how we’ve been able to deliver the ball to him. 

“He needs to go to work with some high-quality defenders this week … he’ll need to have his best form there this week.”