CARLTON coach David Teague has strongly refuted suggestions the club's co-captain Patrick Cripps is dealing with a fractured back that is requiring weekly injections to get through games.
Reports surfaced on Thursday that Cripps has been playing through a fractured back to start the year, though Teague and the Blues have since downplayed those concerns and have said that a prior back injury has now fully healed.
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The club did concede that Cripps, who has battled through an indifferent spell of form through the season's first two months, had hurt his back during a contest in the first weeks of the year.
However, Teague said the bullocking 26-year-old midfielder – who remains one of the League's most high-profile free agents this season – returned to main training six weeks ago and has since fully recovered.
"He's fine," Teague said on Thursday.
"He's doing all of the training. He'll complete everything in training today. He doesn't have a fractured back. Not at all."
Carlton has said it has no doubts Cripps will be fit to play against Melbourne on Sunday, saying the club hasn't considered resting its skipper so far this year despite a back injury he played through earlier in the campaign.
Teague said he was "not sure what the findings were" in relation to how severe his prior back injury was, but said the issue had since fully healed and reiterated that it was not inhibiting the important onballer.
"He had a sore back at the start of the year, but not now," Teague said.
"Everything has healed now and he's fine. He had a sore back, I'm not sure what the actual findings were. But that was reported, he had a sore back earlier in the year. I think he's been completing full training since round two or three.
"It's not an issue now. You can talk about it if you want, but it's in the past."
The report also suggested that Cripps was requiring weekly injections to play through the pain barrier, though Teague denied that claim and again reiterated that his star midfielder was now fully fit.
"No … not that I'm aware of," Teague said.
"He may have (received injections earlier in the year), but I'm not sure. I don't know what the medical side of things were. I know he had a sore back and we managed it from a training point of view, but he's fine now.
"The story right now should be whether Cripps is fine to play and yes he is. That's exciting for us and for our fans. He's completing all of our training and he's playing strong. That's what we want."
Cripps had just 15 disposals in Sunday's loss to the Western Bulldogs, his fewest in a full game featuring 20-minute quarters since June 2019, spending an extended period on the bench to start the second half.