PROMOTED vice-captain Patrick Cripps will get the chance this year to showcase his claim to being Marc Murphy's successor in charge at Carlton.
Murphy, 30, will skipper the Blues for a sixth consecutive season, making him the fifth-longest-serving captain at the club behind Stephen Kernahan, John Nicholls, Ken Hands and Ern Henfry.
The reigning club champion is yet to contemplate if or when he might step aside for a younger option.
Cripps and Sam Docherty are Murphy's new deputies in an eight-man leadership group including Kade Simpson, Ed Curnow and fresh faces Matthew Kreuzer, Alex Silvagni and Lachie Plowman.
The retired Dennis Armfield and Bryce Gibbs, who successfully requested a trade to Adelaide, make way from last year's group.
Docherty will likely miss the entire season after undergoing a knee reconstruction in November, leaving Cripps in pole position to be a significant on-field presence.
Simpson was Carlton's vice-captain last year, but elected to take a step back.
"Simmo has been a great vice to me over the years and he's still going to be a great leader," Murphy said.
"But he just feels Sam and 'Crippa' have really taken some big leaps forward and are certainly ready to be vice-captains.
"They're definitely going to be the future of our footy club for the next 10 years, so it's good to give them an opportunity as vice-captains."
Carlton's 2018 leadership group: Marc Murphy to captain for sixth season (fifth-longest serving), with Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty as vice-captains. Kade Simpson, Lachie Plowman, Ed Curnow, Alex Silvagni and Matthew Kreuzer complete the leadership group. pic.twitter.com/NjQWNreyXp— Marc McGowan (@McGowan_Media) January 31, 2018
Cripps, 22, broke Bulldog Tom Liberatore's record for the most clearances and contested possessions through 50 games and has designs on becoming a more impactful forward in 2018.
Docherty will retain a major behind-the-scenes role as he recovers from his major left knee setback in the first week of pre-season training.
The 24-year-old is attending coaches' meetings and functioning as a conduit between them and Murphy.
"He's a bit of a footy nerd, Sammy," Murphy said.
"He loves his footy, thinks about it like a coach and he's already been doing coaching courses at the age of (24), although he'll be playing for another 10 or 12 years, no doubt.
"But his voice and instruction around the group is really important, because he sees it from a players' point of view, so the coaches can understand what it's like to be out there playing."
Gibbs' exit and 2017 All Australian defender Docherty's absence mean there will be increased opportunities for some and extra responsibility for others.
Cripps, who didn't play after round 16 last year because of a broken leg, is one such player, while newcomers Matt Kennedy and Darcy Lang will be part of the midfield rotation.
Second-year dasher Zac Fisher is training with the midfield group, while versatile talls Charlie Curnow and Jack Silvagni spent time opposed to each other in the middle in match simulation at Craigieburn on Wednesday.
David Cuningham, ex-Power defender Cam O'Shea, discarded Roo Aaron Mullett and injury-cursed Irishman Ciaran Byrne are among the options to fill Docherty's half-back void.
"Doc was in the same boat two or three years ago, where no-one really knew much about him," Murphy said.
"He's stood up to be an All Australian, so hopefully there are some guys who can hopefully get to that level and be pretty handy, but (there are) some guys who no doubt see it as a great opportunity."
Meanwhile, the club boosted its recruiting department with two new additions under general manager of list management and strategy Stephen Silvagni.
Michael Agresta has crossed over from Sydney to be list manager, while Dale Bleach joins from Hawthorn as a recruiting officer.
Carlton's 2018 leadership group
Marc Murphy – captain
Sam Docherty – vice-captain
Patrick Cripps – vice-captain