CARLTON midfielder Bryce Gibbs has backed skipper Marc Murphy to make an impact in this week's opening round clash with Richmond despite a limited pre-season.
Murphy sat out the Blues' NAB Challenge series as he nursed a shoulder injury, but has targeted a return in Thursday night's meeting with the Tigers at the MCG.
The 28-year-old trained with the Blues at Ikon Park on Monday morning, and Gibbs was confident that his captain's workload behind the scenes would hold him in good stead early in the season.
"Obviously we've got one more training session to get through, but although he hasn't been playing games, he's been training really hard," Gibbs said.
"I don't think fitness is going to be an issue for him. If he gets through today I'll be pretty surprised if he doesn't line up."
Carlton starts its era under new coach Brendon Bolton with few expectations, and last year's wooden-spooners will enter this week's contest with Richmond as rank outsiders.
The club has made no secret of its plans for a long-term rebuild, but Gibbs said the Blues would not be taking that approach on the field.
"We've been training together as a group for six months and have a pretty good understanding of each other's games now," he said.
"No questions about it, we're going out there to win. We're going out there to win every week. We'll be giving it our all and as long as we're bringing the effort, that's going to give us the best chance to get the four points."
Gibbs said there was a mix of relief and excitement around Carlton at the home and away season beginning after a long off-season, but the former No.1 draft pick has been waiting even longer than most for his chance don the navy blue again.
The 27-year-old required season-ending pectoral surgery in July last year, forcing him to miss the final two months of the season, but he is confident he can return to the form of 2014 when he claimed Carlton's best and fairest.
"It has been a while since I've run out with the boys, but it's actually gone pretty quick and I feel like I'm in pretty good nick.
"I'm looking forward to getting back and having another good year, which I did a couple of years ago," he said.