CARLTON is hopeful of regaining a series of its most important stars as it looks to break its September drought over the coming weeks, led by the impending return of intercept defender Mitch McGovern and ruckman Marc Pittonet.
McGovern is a decent chance to make his comeback this weekend, having missed close to four months with a serious hamstring injury that he initially sustained in March before reaggravating in April.
The 27-year-old will face a fitness test later this week and, should he pass that, the club's match committee will then have to decide whether he returns for the AFL side's blockbuster clash with Geelong on Saturday night, or via the VFL.
Pittonet is likely still another week away from his comeback, with youngster Tom De Koning to continue acting as the side's first-choice ruck option against the Cats, having missed almost three months with a PCL injury to his knee.
But the pair's expected return to football at some level over the next fortnight will further bolster a Carlton outfit that currently sits two games clear inside the top-eight, as it aims to snap a decade-long finals drought in the last six weeks of the season.
The Blues already regained key defender Jacob Weitering from a shoulder injury last week, with McGovern's return to strengthen a backline that has been severely depleted at different stages throughout the year.
Zac Williams is another likely to return from a calf injury within the next month, while Caleb Marchbank is also around a month away from his comeback following his latest knee setback.
Small forward Matt Owies (calf), wing Jack Newnes (corked leg) and half-forward Jack Martin (calf) are all expected to face fitness tests later this week and also remain a chance to play against Geelong on Saturday night.
Veteran midfielder Ed Curnow (calf) made his long-awaited return via the VFL last week, picking up 19 disposals and five tackles, while mid-season rookie recruit Sam Durdin (knee) and midfielder Lachie Fogarty (back) also played.