With Cam Zurhaar and Tarryn Thomas returning to the side for last week’s clash with Richmond, competition for a spot in North Melbourne’s best 22 hasn't been higher in 2021.

Even with the cancellation of last weekend’s VFL, there are a number of players pushing for a recall to the senior side, and some banging the door down for a debut.

Next on the agenda, though, is a Sydney side looking to keep its slim top four hopes alive.

North Media looks at who is in the mix.

After stringing together some strong performances against Carlton and Geelong, Will Phillips found himself out of the side that took on Richmond in Round 21.

The young midfielder has been in and out of the team this season, but his 5 score involvements and 199 metres gained against the Blues showcased his elite kicking inside 50, with Nick Larkey the main beneficiary of his work.

Charlie Lazzaro has been in top form in the VFL, with the versatile first-year player often supplementing spells on the wing with time playing inside midfield.

He was everywhere against Port Melbourne in Round 16’s VFL win, collecting 26 disposals, 5 tackles and a goal en route to arguably a best-on-ground performance.

01:49 Mins
Published on

VFL: Charlie Lazzaro in action (Round 16, 2021)

First-year Kangaroo Charlie Lazzaro was among the best on Saturday at Arden Street as the North Melbourne VFL side knocked off Port Melbourne by 17 points.

Published on

Another to impress in the clash with Port Melbourne was Charlie Comben, with the young forward finishing as North’s only multiple goal-kicker for the day.

With 2 goals and 3 behinds for the day, the Port Melbourne defence struggled to deal with Comben’s aerial prowess in the forward 50, with the key-position player also responsible for creating a number of goals by bringing the ball to ground.

After being named as an emergency for the Richmond clash, he seems to be closing in on a long-awaited debut.

One player competing for the same tall spot in the side, however, is Tristan Xerri, with the young ruck forced to miss the clash with the Tigers, due to a shin injury.

Should he be fit to play, Xerri will be looking to add to the eight games he’s already played in 2021.

Should North want to change up its defence, there are two ready to go replacements waiting in the wings in the form of Shaun Atley and Atu Bosenavulagi.

After playing 208 games since 2012, Atley has found himself out of the side in recent weeks, but has averaged 18.2 disposals and 2.4 score involvements from the back line this season.

Bosenavulagi kicked his first career goal in his most recent senior game, nailing a well taken goal on the run against Geelong.

Arriving at the club as a pacey and athletic wing/forward, his transition into a defensive role has seen exceptional improvement in the young number 15.

He’s averaged 12.3 disposals across his six senior appearances this season, and has impressed with his line-breaking run and carry.

00:46 Mins
Published on

Atu's awesome solo effort (Round 20, 2021)

Atu Bosenavulagi intercepts the footy and steams forward for a stunning goal on the burst.

Published on

Changes could be made on the wings, should Jared Polec and Lachie Young both be available, with the pair looking to assert their cases in what is one of North’s deepest positions.

Polec has had a 2021 interrupted by hamstring issues and missed the Richmond game due to management, after making his return to the side the week before.

Young played in the Port Melbourne VFL clash last week and impressed with his physicality in the contest, collecting 17 disposals and 5 tackles.

Rookie-listed Patrick Walker was once again mentioned by David Noble in a post-match press conference, this time after the Geelong game, as the first-year player pushes his case for a debut.

Initially drafted as a defender, Walker has been spending much of his time in the VFL on the wing, where his gut running and efficient kicking perfectly suit him to the role.

He impressed against Port Melbourne two weeks ago, picking up 22 disposals and a goal in yet another strong showing.

Phoenix Spicer is also pushing for a debut, having been named as an emergency in each of the last two weeks.

The exciting young forward had been missing from action due to a hamstring injury, but looks to have shaken any signs of rustiness, and he could add some serious x-factor to the North forward line.

Connor Menadue could also be recalled to either the defensive or forward lines, with the first-year Roo impressing at the attacking end of the ground at VFL level.

Picking up 22 disposals and a goal in the VFL win over Borough, Menadue’s forward pressure was immense, often setting the defensive tone for the entire team behind him.