CARLTON still expects Charlie Curnow to make his long-awaited return from a knee injury later this season, with the gun forward edging closer to re-joining the main group at training.
Curnow hasn't featured for the Blues since June 2019 and could miss beyond two years by the time he returns from a series of debilitating knee injuries in the second half of this season.
However, having resumed running and agility activities at training recently, the supremely talented 24-year-old is making good progress from the latest bout of knee surgery he underwent last November.
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"Charlie is going really well," Carlton high-performance boss Andrew Russell told the club's website.
"He's on track and he's exactly where we expected him to be. He's running, he's doing agility work, he's kicking the footy. He's not quite back into training with the group yet, but he's progressing well.
"We'll be guided by Charlie's body, how he recovers from training sessions and how it adapts from week-to-week as to how quickly we can progress him. But if all goes well, we'll have him available later in the season."
Curnow's last full game for Carlton was a remarkable seven-goal haul against the Western Bulldogs midway through the 2019 season, but the emerging superstar has endured a series of unlucky injury setbacks ever since.
After missing the last eight games of the 2019 season with a medial complaint, Curnow dislocated his right knee while playing basketball with teammates in October 2019 and then fractured the same kneecap after slipping on tiles the following November.
A hairline stress response to the same right knee, sustained in April last year, then ruled him out of the entire 2020 season before suffering his latest setback – a stress injury to the patella of his knee – last November.
Carlton key forward Harry McKay is currently second in this year's Coleman Medal count with 22 goals from the first six matches. However, both he and Curnow have played just 23 of a possible 111 games together since they were drafted.
Curnow has played 58 games for the Blues since he was recruited to the club with pick No.12 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, kicking 77 goals.