Port Adelaide desperately need Dixon back in the forward line. Photo - afl.com.au

Port Adelaide is in need of Charlie Dixon to return to its forward line after two disappointing results threaten to derail its season.

The 31-year-old is at the centre of everything the club does in its forward half, but it is that overreliance that is a huge problem that Port Adelaide has yet to fix in the opening two rounds.

Port Adelaide has gotten off to the worst possible start in 2022 and not having its star forward is a major reason behind it.

With Charlie Dixon missing the opening two rounds of the season, the Power have looked toothless in attack. With the trio of Todd Marshall, Mitch Georgiades and Jeremy Finlayson having to shoulder the burden up forward, all three have largely failed.

Georgiades is in his third year so we cannot expect too much from the 20-year-old. Marshall has failed to produce on several occasions and Finlayson is still acclimatising to his new club.

When it comes to Dixon, he is at the centre of everything good for Port Adelaide in the forward half of the ground. He takes the best defender, often dealing with being outnumbered and he still manages to impact the game more often than not. His presence also allows others around him to influence the game positively.

Port Adelaide is a completely different beast with Charlie Dixon in the side, having a 71-41 record throughout his 112 games. It is a decent return and shows that the Power wins far more than they lose when the key forward is in the lineup.

However, when the 31-year-old is absent, Ken Hinkley’s men are 8-11, which is a big difference. The Alberton faithful has known how important Dixon is for some time and it does seem odd that it has not been rectified.

Dixon’s injury spelled trouble

When news filtered through that Charlie Dixon had injured his ankle at training during the preseason, it sent shudders down the spines of supporters. Now, without its number one target, Port Adelaide was always going to struggle.

This has proven to be true in the opening two rounds of the season and it has made for ugly viewing. In games against Brisbane and Hawthorn, Port Adelaide has won the inside 50 battle in the two games, 113 to 98 overall, but has somehow kicked three fewer goals.

This is where the reliance on Dixon is brought to light. To make matters worse, in the opening fortnight, Port ranks third in the league for inside 50s, but last (18th) in goals scored.

Hinkley’s side also ranks 17th in marks inside 50, averaging just 7.5 per game through the opening two rounds. The return of King Charles would help rectify that.

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Last season, Dixon managed three or more marks inside 50 eight times, and Port Adelaide was 5-2 in those games.

In the two games played this season, from 113 inside entries, there have only been 15 marks inside 50. Dixon’s omission is stark.

Between the three forwards of Marshall, Finlayson and Georgiades, only 10 marks inside 50 and 21 marks overall have been taken in the opening two games. The trio has only kicked two goals between them in two games, which is a poor return by league standards.

Despite having enough opportunities inside the forward 50, no player has capitalised. The argument could be made that had Charlie Dixon been available for the first two games, results could have been different.

Having a key target like Dixon is paramount for Port Adelaide to have any success this season. Given that Ken Hinkley has such a dependence on a 31-year-old forward who has missed 19 games in his six seasons with the club is worrying.

Port Adelaide needs its big key forward back and in a hurry. It is clear that in the opening stages of the season, his absence is sorely missed, and Port have paid the price.

Sitting at 0-2 with a Showdown and the reigning premiers Melbourne to come, it only gets harder. The season could be over before it even starts.

King Charles needs to rally on his powers of recovery, otherwise, the season could be unsalvageable.

Port Adelaide goes head-to-head with the Adelaide Crows in Showdown LI on Friday night. The Power has won the last four encounters.

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