MARC Murphy is now competing with several fringe players for a senior berth, Carlton coach David Teague has declared, after the former Blues captain started the clash with Sydney as the medical sub.
The 33-year-old watched more than half of the game against the Swans from the bench until replacing the injured Michael Gibbons in the third term, but could only gather five disposals and had little impact.
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The 294-game veteran has moved from his usual onball role to play forward more this season, but lost his place in the starting 22 after Jack Martin recovered from a PCL injury.
Murphy may now have to fight his way back into the midfield if he's to join the 300 club this season, but Teague said there was no certainty to be room for the veteran.
"We've got a couple of guys, Matt Kennedy, Paddy Dow, who played quite well today as midfielders. Jack Newnes is pushing for selection, Lochie O'Brien, so we've got some good depth there," Teague said.
"We might have to give a few guys a go to see who that is, but we'll keep working hard to find out best 22. We still see Marc as someone who is in there, and if he's playing well and if he's in form.
"There will come a stage where if you get two guys on level pegging, you generally go the younger guy, but if one of the older players is ahead of the other guy then we're picking the team to win."
Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay was an imposing figure throughout a tight tussle with the Swans, often having the better of opponent Tom McCartin in the air but failing to make the most of his goalkicking opportunities.
The Blues' key forward finished with 3.5 from eight marks, but Teague said the wayward kicking wasn't an ongoing concern.
"He's been pretty accurate for us this year. He got some good looks today, and as a key forward we just want him to keep getting those looks," Teague said.
"I'll back him in, the work he does off the field in this area, I'll keep backing him in, I just want him to be able to get those shots. I thought he competed strongly for us.
"He's got a really clear plan of what he does and where. His snaps this year, accuracy-wise, have been very good. He knows in each part of the ground which kick he's going. As long as he commits to that kick, that's all I care about."
The Swans' Isaac Heeney was voted best player on the ground after picking up 22 touches, with 14 marks and three goals in another outstanding display from the gun forward.
Heeney has now kicked 16 goals from nine games, a return all the more impressive given he was expected to have a slow start to the season after a nasty ankle injury last year lingered through the pre-season.
The 25-year-old also broke a hand against Essendon in round four but only missed one match with the injury.
"He's played with some terrible knocks that nobody really knows about over the last couple of years. He's just so hard, he just competes so hard," Swans coach John Longmire said.
"He's been able to get a couple of weeks of training, hopefully he keeps going with that. He's still modified on the training program but he is a really tough player.
"He's that player who can go up the ground as a midfield type, because he's good on the ground, and be really hard and clean. He knows what he's doing around the scramble but he can float forward and take those marks."
Longmire said superstar forward Lance Franklin had pulled up well despite appearing to hurt his left knee in a tackle early in the final quarter.
"He said he felt fine," Longmire said.
"That (playing out the game) is a good sign."