ALL EYES are on Carlton's shiny new recruits but the Blues are eyeing most of their improvement to come from within as they target a return to the finals for the first time since 2013.
Carlton was again busy in the off-season, landing gun duo Adam Saad from Essendon and Greater Western Sydney's Zac Williams on long-term lucrative contracts, as well as Geelong youngster Lachie Fogarty.
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But having fallen in their bid to make the top-eight last year – they lost four of the last five games to finish in 11th position on the ladder – the Blues are hopeful their young developing group will be central to another rise.
Assistant coach Dale Amos said a quartet of experienced, yet youthful, Blues were among the group who would take on more responsibility.
"All the group has been in really good shape, and it's probably just the progression of guys like [Will] Setterfield, [Sam] Walsh, [Jacob] Weitering, [Zac] Fisher and that group who are now at the stage where they're going to be our most influential players moving forward," Amos told AFL.com.au.
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"That group that has been in the system a few years now and now look like they're going to take the next step and really guide the club forward."
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Fisher has built up his body, adding several kilos to his frame as he looks to grow his game as a small forward, while Walsh used his time in the Blues' Queensland hub last year to also add body strength.
The NAB AFL Rising Star winner and 2018 No.1 draft pick looks primed to continue his exciting development after being one of the competition's leading wingmen last year, with more midfield minutes on the horizon.
"He's always been a hard worker in all phases of footy – on the field, off the field and certainly in the gym," Amos said.
"That's probably that progression now into his third year, he's naturally improving. He's been super-impressive but he probably has since day one when he first walked in the door."
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Bad quarters proved costly for the Blues last season but Amos said some tweaks were being worked on as David Teague headed for his second full season as coach.
"It's very much about controlling what we can and the way we prepare and the intensity we train and the purpose with which we train. It's about trying to improve in all of those things and understanding we probably need to grow and mature in all areas a little bit," he said.
"It's not a lot, but that doesn't mean there's not a lot of work to be done to get to that point.
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"At different stages it was the contest that got us last year, so we need to be better and stronger around the footy. At stages we didn't hold up defensively, so we want to be a bit stauncher there, and 'Teaguey's' been pretty buoyant about how we're going to attack and that we're going to be pretty aggressive in the way that we play.
"It's probably about incrementally improving all of those areas."