CARLTON is facing a mounting injury headache in attack, with the club's go-to key forward Harry McKay set to undergo a fitness test ahead of round one after aggravating an ankle injury last week.
McKay, who had injured his ankle in a behind-closed-doors practice match against Essendon a fortnight ago, limped from the field in the opening quarter of last Thursday night's AAMI Community Series defeat to St Kilda.
He didn't return to the park, with doubt surrounding whether the promising 200cm goalkicker will have enough time to prove his fitness ahead of next Thursday night's blockbuster season-opener against reigning premiers Richmond.
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McKay's fitness troubles add to a growing list of injury issues in the forward half for the Blues, who will already be without superstar youngster Charlie Curnow, fellow marking target Mitch McGovern and developing big man Tom De Koning.
Curnow is a long-term prospect with a knee injury, McGovern is suffering from back stiffness following a summer hamstring issue and De Koning is still recovering from an ongoing back injury of his own.
"Harry stirred his ankle up against Essendon," Carlton's high-performance boss Andrew Russell told the club's website.
"It settled down really well before the St Kilda game and we were absolutely convinced he was right to play. He stepped on someone's ankle again, so there was a bit of bad luck involved."
In better news for Carlton, ruck-forward Levi Casboult should be fit to face Richmond after jarring his knee in an intraclub match last month. That's despite the experienced tall missing both practice matches against Essendon and St Kilda.
Meanwhile, veteran forward Eddie Betts is also expected to be available for selection after kicking two goals in just over a half in a VFL practice match against St Kilda last Friday morning.
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"Levi's knee is settling down really well," Russell said.
"He trained yesterday, he trained late last week, he'll train again later this week and we expect him to be available if everything continues on the track that he's showing us right now.
"Eddie has looked as good on the track as I've seen him in the last 12 months. He looks back to his best in the way he's moving and in his confidence in his kicking and his hands.
"He played a really good chunk of that game (last Friday) and his output was excellent, so really it's now down to the selectors and whether they think he's ready to go."
Curnow remains on track to feature in the second half of the season following his latest knee setback, with the Blues hopeful of seeing the highly talented 24-year-old back running in the next fortnight.
"Charlie's doing exactly what he needs to do," Russell said.
"He's doing a really good and solid strength program. His quad, hamstring and glute strength looks great and his leg is equal diameter on both sides, so that strength has come back.
"His knee looks healthy and over the next couple of weeks, we'll get him back running again and that's when the process to get him back playing really starts. We're very happy with where he's at, but he's still got some work to do."
Defender and reigning best and fairest Jacob Weitering has recovered from a hip injury sustained last Thursday and will be fit to play, but wingman Jack Newnes will undergo a fitness test next week following an ankle injury.
Caleb Marchbank (calf), Sam Philp (hip), Brodie Kemp (foot) and Nic Newman (knee) are all out.