CARLTON coach Mick Malthouse has backed former skipper Chris Judd to bounce back from his lingering Achilles injury and have an impact in 2014.

The Blues revised Judd's return date from round three to round five on Tuesday, with football manager Andrew Mackay saying the two-time Brownlow medallist's recovery from surgery in February had been slower than hoped.

Malthouse told reporters at Visy Park on Wednesday Carlton was taking a conservative approach to Judd's rehabilitation to ensure he returned at full fitness.

"It's a conservative approach for a player that's played a lot of football, 12 years or thereabouts, and to try to rush him back would be an injustice to his body," Malthouse said.

"So we just want to get him back, get him back playing good football, get him back injury free and feeling as good about himself as he possibly can.

"To rush him back is probably all against what I've always thought about a bloke like Chris Judd …"

"We use the word champion too often, but he is a champion. You never deny a champion coming back and playing great sport, whatever sport he's involved in.

"I have the utmost confidence he'll come back and have an impact."

Malthouse said ruckman Matthew Kreuzer would play in the Blues' clash with Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night despite pulling up sore after the round one loss to Port Adelaide.

Kreuzer (foot) is one of several Blues whose pre-seasons were disrupted by off-season surgery.

Lachie Henderson (upper leg) and Dale Thomas (ankle) played alongside Kreuzer in the Blues' round one team, but Judd, vice-captain Andrew Carrazzo (calf), Sam Docherty (knee) and Dennis Armfield (knee) are yet to return.

Malthouse said the Blues' focus would be to get as much game time as possible into these players early in the season, but was adamant that did not mean Carlton would make a slow start to 2014.

"We're not there to say this will cost us wins and losses, this is just simply a fact of life," Malthouse said.

"We haven't got 22 players in that position, we've got half a dozen (and) we want to win games of footy.

"At three-quarter time [against Port] we thought we were in the hunt. Now that got blown out of the water pretty quickly in the first seven or eight minutes, but that won't diminish our appetite for victory.

"It won't diminish our belief that we can win games of footy. It just simply means that these players have got to play more football and that's what we're going to do – every opportunity we get, (we'll) just play them on the ground."

Malthouse said Carrazzo and Docherty would have returned via the VFL this weekend, but with the Blues' affiliate Northern Blues not playing would have to wait until the VFL season kicked off next week.

The Blues coach said this was frustrating but understandable given the Northern Blues had already played four or five practice matches.
"But we can top up at training," Malthouse said of Carrazzo and Docherty.

"VFL is a lesser intensity, but training you can rig it any way you want to rig it and those players will know that they've had a decent hit-out, believe me."

Twitter: @AFL_Nick