Jack Watts
Jack Watts

Melbourne coach Mark Neeld has praised forward turned defender Jack Watts for his contribution in recent weeks.

Watts was dropped prior to Melbourne's Round 6 clash against Geelong but returned to the side in a defensive role.

The 2008 top draft pick has since been deployed on the wing, and more recently as a spare defender, and Neeld said Watts appeared to have a long-term future in defence.

However, the Demons coach is keen for Watts to maintain his consistency ahead of their match against high-flying Essendon on Saturday night.

"He's done a really good job and he's had two pretty consistent weeks of quality footy. Jack's working really hard during the week and it's good to see some of that pay off," Neeld said on Friday.

"We want that to turn into three consecutive good games and then build from there."

Neeld also leapt to the defence of under-fire co-captain Jack Trengove.

The 20-year-old has been the subject of strong criticism for several below-par performances, but despite the external judgements, a surprised Neeld drew on the positives and insisted Trengove was making good progress.

"I read that article the other day and I thought that's pretty interesting," Neeld said.

"If you delve through our stats, Jack sits No.5 for disposals and we think he can certainly increase that.

"He sits second at the club for tackles, he leads our internal one percent count.

"And he is also second on our GPS rating, so that says he is working particularly hard and covers the ground really well.

"So from an offensive point of view we think there is still some scope to improve there.

"And his leadership is really good and he's going to develop into, along with 'Grimesy' (Jack Grimes), outstanding AFL captains in the years to come."

Neeld added experienced pair Brad Green (lung) and James Frawley (foot) were expected to play on Saturday night.

"All of the medical information we got is that they're good to go, so we expect them to play," he said.
Following Saturday night's match, Melbourne do battle with Collingwood in their annual Queen's Birthday showdown before their bye.

When asked if he was looking forward to the break, Neeld said it provided the club with an ideal opportunity to regroup.

"The bye is beneficial. The demands of the game, particularly on the players, they're amazing," he said.

"All football clubs appreciate the bye and you plan for it, so you start to tailor training around it and we're no different.

"We're aware of when the bye is and everyone looks forward to no matter what your occupation is -a bit of a breather, if it comes up."


More from 7Sport

Indigenous stars Lance Franklin and Shaun Burgoyne have both excelled in a thrilling AFL match at the SCG, where Hawthorn have beaten Sydney by six points.