MELBOURNE has run out of patience with Jack Watts.
The Demons last night dropped the No. 1 draft pick for their game on the road against Geelong tomorrow, leaving no doubt about how they were approaching his poor start to 2012.
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''His form hasn't been up to where we wanted it to be,'' said assistant coach Brian Royal last night.
It breaks a run of 42 straight games for the anointed Watts, who was disappointing against St Kilda last weekend, failing to curtail the Saints' Sam Fisher in an unfamiliar negating role. He will play for Casey against Geelong in the curtain-raiser tomorrow.
The No. 1 pick from the 2008 national draft is at a flashpoint of his career under new coach Mark Neeld and has been under constant scrutiny since his 2009 senior debut.
Melbourne regained ruck-forward Mitch Clark and defender James Frawley for the game that is a reminder to the football world of last year's massacre at Geelong, a defeat that cost former coach Dean Bailey his job.
The Demons are yet to win in five starts this season, and have a horror draw ahead. Geelong brought back brilliant midfielder James Kelly for the clash after two weeks on the sidelines with a groin injury.
Meanwhile, despite Carlton scoffing at suggestions it was being disrespectful of Greater Western Sydney, the Blues left captain Chris Judd, centre half-forward Jarrad Waite and ruckman Matthew Kreuzer out of the game at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday. Judd was left out with what the club called ''general soreness'', Waite has hip soreness and Kreuzer was said to have a knee problem.
But it is hard to escape the notion that the Blues are managing their players against a team that has not yet come within seven goals of beating its opposition in its first season at AFL level.
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy hinted this week of arrogance in Carlton's method, but Blues coach Brett Ratten dismissed the notion.
''I don't think you can call us arrogant in regards to what we're doing to look after our list and make sure that our best players are ready to play every week. I think that's a bit out of line,'' Ratten said.
''We're playing a game of football, we want to get the best preparation for our team and if it means we've got some sore players and [fit] players available, we'll make some changes''.
Judd said he had niggling injuries. ''If this was the last game of the year, sure I'd be playing. But I'm sure we're all smart enough to know it's important to manage players' bodies, particularly when you get to my ripe, old age.''
Former Blues forward Setanta O'hAilpin will make his debut for the Giants, after coming back from a calf injury with some impressive performances in the NEAFL.
Hawthorn selected defender Grant Birchall for the game against St Kilda after a prolonged absence, but lost another backman in Josh Gibson, who rolled an ankle against Sydney last weekend.
The Saints dropped Dean Polo and called up the highly rated Arryn Siposs to play up forward.
Essendon's injury woes continue, with key defender Tayte Pears being ruled out with soreness for Saturday's match against the Brisbane Lions. The Bombers regained Courtenay Dempsey and Nathan Lovett-Murray from their soft-tissue injuries and also recalled Travis Colyer.