Gather Round won't be season-defining: Crows captain

Adelaide captain Jordan Dawson says there's no bigger stage for his winless and finals-starved club than opening the AFL's Gather Round.

But he's adamant Thursday night's sold-out clash against Melbourne at Adelaide Oval won't define the season for his struggling Crows.

"We're three weeks into a 23-game season," Dawson told reporters on Wednesday.

"We want to get the win but I wouldn't say (it's) season-defining ... we're not putting that kind of pressure on it."

The Crows have made five changes from last week's defeat to Fremantle - Luke Pedlar, Lachlan Sholl and James Borlase have been axed while Wayne Milera and Lachlan Murphy are out because of knee injuries.

Adelaide recalled Jordon Butts and Sam Berry while Patrick Parnell, Brayden Cook and Luke Nankervis have been picked for the first time this season.

Jordon Butts
Jordon Butts has gained a recall for the Crows.

The Crows are rank outsiders against a Melbourne outfit holding third spot on the ladder but Dawson said his club, who haven't played finals since 2017, have identified reasons for their early flops.

"We've tried to pinpoint some issues that we're having, we've been able to do that this week," he said.

"And the key thing is to stay positive as a group - review what we have to do, individually and as a team, and then work on it from there and try and implement it tomorrow night.

"We noticed, last week especially, our shape on the ground defensively and offensively was nowhere near what it needed to be.

"That created a bit of randomness, I suppose, as a group when we get the ball.

"I feel really confident of our review and what we got out of it. And individuals are really clear on their roles now.

"We have just got to implement those roles individually and be better as a team."

The Crows, the AFL's highest-scorers last season, are also struggling in attack - they have posted middling totals of 34, 77 and 54 points in their losses.

And Melbourne's renowned defence has been boosted by the return of All Australian backman Steven May after a one-game absence due to broken ribs as a replacement for the injured Marty Hore.

Steven May
Steven May will make his return for the Demons.

May's return could prompt Harrison Petty to be redeployed in attack - the versatile South Australian was a recruitment target of the Crows at the end of last season.

The Demons rejected a trade for the contracted Petty but Adelaide are understood to be preparing another bid at season's end.

"He's loving his footy this year in Melbourne and he's playing such an important role for us, whether that's forward or back," Melbourne utility Alex Neal-Bullen said of Petty.

"(The future) is something for Pettsy. We hope he stays long-term in Melbourne, but right now we just want him to be playing the best footy in our team."

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