THE DIFFICULT task of getting Patrick Cripps off the field for a spell is enough for Carlton coach David Teague to be apprehensive about the idea to increase bench sizes.
The AFL announced earlier this week that it is still considering a proposal to expand the size of interchange benches by "one or two" players for the rest of the season, in the wake of the significant disruptions to the season due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
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A decision on increased bench sizes won't be made until the week of round two, which is due to fall on June 11, although Teague is one of few AFL coaches who is not entirely in favour of the idea.
"I don't think we need to if we're playing every 5-7 days and there's already shortened quarters … I think four on the bench is a good call," Teague said at Carlton training on Friday morning.
"It would help two players get a little extra time, but hopefully we can get games going for those guys (who aren't in the best 22) against the opposition. Then you would have two less for that.
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"We want the best players out there and there are already shortened quarters. If we add two more on the bench, you might end up with the best players sitting on the bench for longer.
"I'm keen for our good players to stay out there, because trying to get 'Crippa' off once per quarter is hard enough … let alone more if we've got more on the bench."
Carlton's entire squad took part in full-contract training together for the first time on Friday, having been split into smaller groups earlier in the week, with forward duo Harry McKay (groin) and Eddie Betts (calf) welcome additions after missing round one through injury.
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Both will be fit to play Melbourne in round two, with Nic Newman (elbow) also expected to feature.
However, Zac Fisher (ankle) and Caleb Marchbank (knee) are further behind in their recoveries and trained away from the main group at Ikon Park, with ruck duo Matthew Kreuzer (foot) and Tom De Koning (ankle) also absent.
It leaves new recruit Marc Pittonet as the likely starting ruckman ahead of the resumption of the season, although Teague believes forward Levi Casboult could also stake his claim for the position after a strong showing in round one.
"(Pittonet) has been really physical and competitive at training," Teague said.
"That's probably the area we've loved the most. Hopefully he brings that physical component.
"Having said that, Levi was outstanding when he went into the ruck in round one. We've got a couple of options there, so they're going to have to fight for spots.
"(But) if 'Pitto' keeps training the way he is, I think he'll definitely be putting his hand right up."