AFTER more than two years out of the game, Charlie Curnow is available for AFL selection.
Carlton coach David Teague confirmed on Wednesday morning that Curnow is a fighting chance to make his long-awaited return this weekend, potentially marking his first appearance for the club since June 2019.
Curnow has dealt with a series of debilitating injuries to his right knee over the last two years, forcing him to spend a frustratingly long stint on the sidelines, but Friday night's clash against St Kilda could finally spell the end of a 761-day wait.
The precociously talented key forward hasn't played a full AFL game since booting seven goals against the Western Bulldogs in Teague's second game as interim coach, missing the remainder of the 2019 season with a medial ligament injury to his right knee.
He then dislocated the same right knee playing basketball with teammates in October that year, before accidentally slipping on tiles the following November and suffering a fractured kneecap.
He missed the entire 2020 season after enduring a hairline stress response to the knee in April last year, before his start to the 2021 campaign was significantly delayed by a stress injury to his patella last November.
But the athletically gifted 24-year-old has now made it through two VFL scratch matches over the last fortnight, playing increased minutes in a game featuring North Melbourne and Hawthorn players last Saturday.
Should he now make it through Carlton's final main training session at Ikon Park on Wednesday morning, Blues coach Teague confirmed he should be fit to feature against St Kilda this weekend.
"Charlie was keen to play last week and put his hand up," Teague said.
"We weren't going to rush the process, so we stuck to our plan. He got through that well, so he's available now. If he gets through training today then that's potentially what will happen, we'll pick him and give him a chance to play AFL football again.
"He annoyed the living daylights out of me last week, wanting to play. He thought he was capable and ready to go, but also it was (his brother) Ed's 200th. He came to me at the start of this week and said he wouldn't annoy me, but that he was ready to go again.
"He's keen, he's excited. But don't get me wrong, I've got no doubt that there's going to be periods throughout this journey over the next part of his footy where he's still going to be growing that confidence and belief again.
"That's not only in his body, it's in his form. But we'll be there. We'll support him. We understand that he's not going to be at his absolute best with the time he's had off. But we'll always back in his efforts.
"We know he lives our trademarks really well and that's what we expect from him if we pick him this weekend. Even if we don't pick him and he plays VFL, we still expect the same standards from him."
Carlton will also consider selecting Mitch McGovern against St Kilda, despite the forward missing the last three months with a hamstring injury, but Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay is unlikely to feature due to a toe problem.
"He's got to get through training before we'd consider him," Teague said of McKay.
"He's got some markers that he'll have to hit. At this stage, it's unlikely. But he's progressed a lot over the weekend and he's feeling a lot better. We'll play it by ear. If he gets up, that'll be great for us."