CARLTON captain Marc Murphy says the Blues have worked on their on-field voice, denying suggestions that poor leadership has been a factor in the club's disastrous 0-4 start to the season.
Following Saturday's loss to Melbourne, defender Andrew Walker said the Blues could go quiet during games, while football manager Andrew McKay said leadership was an issue at the club.
Murphy said the team had worked on having more voice and presence on-field, but it hadn't been an issue this season.
"We're not the loudest group but I think we've taken steps forward … we've acknowledged that over the last few years," he said on Monday.
"On the weekend I thought we were talking enough and communicating. It's probably a bit hard to say, from a media point of view, who's speaking out there when you're not out there yourself.
"But as a leader of the club myself I think the voice has been pretty encouraging over the last couple of weeks when I suppose Essendon was a really bad week for us and the weekend wasn't great for us either.
"On the weekend blokes were starting to speak up and trying to change things out there and that's what we need more of."
Murphy, who is in his second season as captain, defended his own leadership, saying: "I think I've got the respect of all the boys and the club as a whole … that's all that matters to me".
He also said coach Mick Malthouse had the team's full support and was "the perfect bloke to lead us out of where we are at the moment".
Earlier on Monday, vice-captain Kade Simpson also denied there had been a lack of on-field leadership at Carlton.
"No, I don't think it's a problem," he said.
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"We've probably lacked 22 contributors out there and you're not going to win too many games of footy [with that].
"It's so competitive these days, if you have a couple of passengers you're not going to win.
"I think we've got a great leadership group. Murphy's leading by example, so I think we need 22 guys to put their hands up and all lead by example."
Former skipper Chris Judd has been a notable absentee in Carlton's opening four rounds and is on track to return from an Achilles injury this Sunday against the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
Simpson said Judd would be a welcome boost to the side but warned the playing group can't afford to rely on him to pull the Blues out of its slump.
"He's obviously going to be a handy player when he does come back but we're definitely not relying on him," Simpson said.
"He's not going to be the saviour and the fix. He's not going to come back and we're going to all click. We've just got to keep working hard and when he does come back, it will just be a bonus."
Last month Malthouse said the Blues were "approaching 11" on his premiership clock, but that now appears overly optimistic, with many questioning the quality of Carlton's list.
Simpson was quick to defend Malthouse, insisting the blame lay squarely with the players, who were lacking in on-field confidence.
The vice-captain said he still believed the Blues' list had the making of a premiership side.