CARLTON skipper Marc Murphy is confident he'll be fit to play in round one despite being ruled out of the club's final NAB Challenge game against the Sydney Swans on Friday night.
Murphy missed Carlton's first two pre-season games after undergoing shoulder surgery in December, and had targeted the Swans game as his return date.
But Murphy told SEN radio on Thursday morning he remained "right on track" for the season opener against Richmond in two weeks time.
"I was aiming to try and play this Friday night … but just being on the conservative side I thought I would give myself an extra week or two to make sure that the shoulder is where it needs to be," Murphy said.
"I think if it was round one this Friday night I would be playing, so (it's) just more of a conservative approach."
Carlton enters 2016 as the reigning wooden spooner. Given the list's youth and the introduction of a whopping 15 new faces this season, most are tipping a tough on-field year for the Blues under first-year coach Brendon Bolton.
Murphy said it was really important for Carlton that it got its home and away season off to a positive start against Richmond.
"Round one is really important for your players, for your supporters. I think everyone involved wants to see a good performance," Murphy said.
"Our fans have had a really tough few years watching some tough losses, so to come out and play the sort of football that we've been training really hard over the pre-season – to see some of that improvement, defence and offence as well – I think it's going to be a really important start for this footy club."