CHRIS Judd is capable of continuing for "a number of years" after reversing his decision to retire at the end of last season, according to Carlton coach Mick Malthouse.
Judd had a horror run of injury last season. Pre-season Achilles tendon surgery delayed his start to the year until round five against the Western Bulldogs and when he came on as the Blues substitute in the third quarter of that game he badly tore his right hamstring after just six minutes and did not play again until round 13.
When the two-time Brownlow medallist announced last August he would play on this year, he admitted that four or five months earlier he had decided to retire.
But Judd's good form upon his return – he averaged 22.1 possessions, 10.7 contested possessions and 5.5 clearances in the Blues' final 11 games – and Carlton's encouraging finish to the year changed his mind.
Judd, who turned 31 last September, re-signed for the 2015 season and recently said he had not ruled out playing on in 2016.
Malthouse told AFL.com.au he would not put any limits on Judd's remaining time in football.
"He's still got the capacity to play as much football as he wants to play for a number of years the way I see it," Malthouse said.
"But each to his own. In his current shape compared to what he was he feels good, he feels fresh and he's excited about the year.
"My job and a lot of other people's jobs at the football club is to make sure that we get the best out of him and other players, but also make it enjoyable and make it practical and be realistic about expectations."
Malthouse said it would have been a great shame if the six-time All Australian had decided to retire after playing just 12 games last season.
"I'd feel very disappointed if Chris finished the way he finished (last year) because it was an incomplete season and he hobbled through most of it," the Blues coach said.
"I think it's a brave act for a start by Chris. He could have gone and people would still know how great he was.
"But it wasn't a great year for him and I don't know if this is his last year or whatever … but (him playing on) is a great boost for us."
Malthouse is also hoping another key Blue can bounce back from a bad run of injury.
Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer has been sidelined since playing in the Blues' round one loss to Port Adelaide last year by a succession of right foot injuries.
The No.1 draft pick from 2007 looked to have put those problems behind him when he made an outstanding start to the 2015 pre-season, but he was diagnosed with another right foot injury in February and was this week listed as being five weeks away from a return.
Asked whether football followers would ever get to see the best of Kreuzer, Malthouse said that was "a difficult question".
"Just when we thought he'd have his first pre-season in his history he got towards the end of it and broke down," he said.
"For a bloke who absolutely does everything he possibly can to play football and is so passionate about his football club and so passionate about getting out there then the gods at some stage have got to smile upon him and give him the opportunity.
"We'll know within a few weeks I guess where that sits, but for any Carlton supporter you really cross your fingers for him because he deserves an opportunity and he deserves a break."
Watch the above video for an exclusive extended interview with Mick Malthouse