LACHIE Henderson is confident Carlton midfielder Bryce Gibbs won’t exercise his free agency rights and leave the Blues at the end of this season.
Gibbs is out of contract this year and will become a restricted free agent after eight years of service since he was drafted in 2006.
Despite recent suggestions that Adelaide could be poised to make a play for Gibbs, Henderson is certain the 24-year-old will remain a Blue beyond this season.
"I think he'll stay, definitely. I've got no reason not to think that," Henderson told AFL.com.au this week.
"'Gibbsy' is loving his time here so I think he'll be with us for a fair bit longer."
Gibbs was kept from the Crows' grasp in controversial circumstances in his draft year.
His father, Ross, played more than 250 games for SANFL team Glenelg but didn't register enough during the 20-year period from which the Crows were allowed to take father-son recruits.
Ross Gibbs' tally of games before 1991 fell nine short, which forced Bryce into the national draft where the Blues pounced with pick No.1.
Carlton captain Marc Murphy is also headed for free agency status at the end of this season, having been drafted the previous year.
The Blues have seven players due to become free agents this year – the most of any club. Captain Marc Murphy is amongst them, along with Jarrad Waite, Heath Scotland, Michael Jamison, Kade Simpson and Andrew Walker.
Henderson said players had become accustomed to uncontracted teammates heading elsewhere in the age of free agency.
"If I'd stayed in Brisbane, I would have been linked to Melbourne teams a lot of times," Henderson said.
"It is what it is, these days. Free agency was going to come in and this sort of thing was always going to happen.
"You see the movement of players these days and whether you think it's a good or a bad thing, it's nice especially for older players to have that sort of freedom to continue their career somewhere else, without having to go through the draft.
"It's as much a business as it is a game these days."
Henderson's bid to be fit for the Blues' round one clash with Port Adelaide on March 16 remains on track despite recent surgery to release the iliotibial band (ITB) in his left knee.
The 24-year-old had a minor operation on the band, which runs from the hip down into the knee, late last month.
It was his second piece of surgery since the end of last season, having needed a clean out on his right knee last year after injuring it while playing.
The first operation kept him from the Blues' December training camp in Arizona.
The versatile swingman is confident he'll play in round one, and possibly in the NAB Challenge, despite murmurings this week he'd suffered a setback.
"It's going well. I had it done just under two weeks ago and I'm back running this week so it's a minor procedure," he said.
"I've stuck to the timeline so far.
"I might even get a couple of games in before [round one] so I'll be fine."
Henderson said he wasn't sure which end of the ground he would find himself in 2014, after starting last season in defence before moving into attack.
He also said the players were starting to get a better handle on coach Mick Malthouse's game plan after a full season under his tutelage.
"You see with Freo under Ross Lyon, it's just taken a couple of years and now they've made a Grand Final," he said.
"You definitely get more of a grasp the more time you spend together and I think the boys are going really well.
"I've obviously watched a fair bit of training and they look like they're going really well out there."