CARLTON coach Brendon Bolton is "in a hurry" to unleash key forward Harry McKay, but says the top-10 pick simply isn't ready to again play at AFL level.
McKay's playing status is a constant source of fascination, given his lofty draft position and the Blues' struggle to score amid their mounting losses in recent seasons.
The 20-year-old fits the modern prototype for tall forwards as a mobile 200cm target, in the same mould as Joe Daniher, Ben Brown and Tom Lynch.
But McKay has had a horror introduction to elite ranks, missing three months with a back stress fracture in his debut season before a season-ending toe injury last year.
"Like all Bluebaggers, I would have thought, and supporters and media, because he's a big key forward, we really want him to be in our AFL side, me included," Bolton said.
"But for the (two-and-a-bit) years he's been here to date, Harry's unfortunately had body issues; he hasn't completed a full pre-season, he hasn't had any continuity of games and he's playing one of the most difficult positions.
"So, we're trying now to build consistency, so that when he does come in the AFL, he's not in and out, he can get in there and stay there – again, all part of the plan.
"It's no more complex than that. But is the will and want to have him there? Yeah, of course it is. It's just getting the timing right."
The toe issue stopped McKay in his tracks after making two AFL appearances late in the 2017 season, including a promising debut in round 18 against Brisbane.
He hasn't got going this year, kicking one goal in two JLT Community Series matches before managing just one behind and four ineffective kicks in the Blues' 130-point VFL hiding to Collingwood.
The silver lining is McKay's contested marking, which he rated elite for in the VFL last year, remains his best feature and he hauled in four of them in that lopsided state league loss.
But Bolton said he would resist any temptation to bring the young forward into the senior side before his form demanded selection.
"We don't just throw them in there randomly and say, 'We're just going to do it all of a sudden' - it's just not going to happen that way," he said.
"There's a plan behind it. It's an educated decision and an informed decision."