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Battered Blues will 'deal with what's ahead'

Doggies' discipline, Danger flies, turf circus Mitch Cleary presents your Friday Footy Feed
Matthew Kreuzer's absence will be hard to cover - AFL,Carlton Blues,Brendon Bolton
Matthew Kreuzer's absence will be hard to cover
Undoubtedly we’re seeing a lot of our first and second-year players out there
Brendon Bolton

CARLTON heads into its clash against West Coast without its top-four best and fairest players from last year, but coach Brendon Bolton maintains the club isn’t daunted by its task.

The Blues have lost captain Marc Murphy to a foot injury, while ruckman Matthew Kreuzer has joined him on the sidelines due to a groin issue.

Sam Docherty, who is out for the year with a knee injury, and new Crow Bryce Gibbs were the others in the Blues’ top best and fairest vote-getters, leaving the winless Carlton with a huge challenge against the in-form Eagles at the MCG on Saturday.

CARLTON V WEST COAST: Can the Blues bounce back at home?

But Bolton, who self-deprecatingly mocked his tendency to use cliches during his Friday press conference, said the Blues were ready for the contest despite their injury misfortune.

“You deal with what’s ahead of you. You can turn your mind to that negative space or you go ‘How is this going to help us now and into the future?’,” he said.

“Undoubtedly we’re seeing a lot of our first and second-year players out there. These opportunities pay you back.”

The Blues are coming off an 86-point belting at the hands of North Melbourne last week, but Bolton said the club hadn’t gone away from its defensive mindset in a bid to open up its scoring. 

Kreuzer injured his groin in round one against Richmond and has battled through in recent weeks, but Bolton said the former No.1 draft pick would benefit from a rest. 

“It’s been niggling a bit for him. He was pretty close to playing but given his history we just didn’t want to take any high-end risk so we’ve [been able to] break the cycle for him a little bit,” Bolton said.

The Blues hope ruckman Andrew Phillips, who is in for his first game of the year, can break even with Nic Naitanui in a “nil-all draw” while young forward Harry McKay has been brought in for his first game of the season.

Bolton joked he had “succumbed” to the public pressure to include McKay in the side.

“Harry [has been] knocking on my door every day just about. He’s worked incredibly hard,” he said.

“He didn’t have a lot of continuity. He’s now had a few games in the VFL uninterrupted, he kicked a couple of goals on the weekend, took some strong contested marks. We’re really looking forward to seeing what he brings.” 

Bolton also confirmed top-10 pick Lochie O’Brien has re-signed with the club through to the end of 2021.