CARLTON great Chris Judd could be back on the park as soon as the Blues' round 10 clash with Adelaide at the MCG.
Judd strained his hamstring during Carlton's win over the Western Bulldogs in round five in what was the 30-year-old's first game of the season.
At the time of the injury, there was speculation about whether the two-time Brownlow medallist would miss up to two months of footy.
But Carlton's coaching staff is confident that Judd is on track to return in round 10 or 11.
"He's running," assistant coach Dean Laidley said on Sunday. "He's starting to get some higher-end speed, so it's a week-by-week thing.
"We certainly need to make sure we get it right for his sake and obviously for the club's sake, because we really want him to play some really good footy for us in the back half of the year."
The Blues are desperate to lift after a poor showing against Collingwood last weekend and a win against the Saints could get their season back on track prior to their bye in round nine.
"We've been inconsistent in quarters and inconsistent in games," Laidley said.
"But when we stay really well drilled, when we work together and our defensive effort is good, we get good results in quarters and good results at the end of a game.
"It's really important where we are right now, given the team has been a bit of a revolving door, that we do everything right to get the result on Monday night.
"Then we can have a break and after the break we should get back three or four players, which will be really good for the side."
Carlton took on the Magpies after a six-day break between matches but the Blues have benefitted from a much longer lead-up to the game against the Saints.
"It's been really positive for us, because we came off a couple of six-day breaks," he said.
"In those six-day breaks, we hadn't really trained a lot, but we've been able to have a couple of really good sessions this week to get out on the track and practice some stuff.
"So we're really looking forward to playing on the Monday night."
The Blues have made two changes for the clash with the Saints, with Chris Yarran and David Ellard replacing Tom Bell (finger) and Kane Lucas (omitted).
Highly-rated draftee Patrick Cripps was not included despite a best-on-ground performance in the VFL last weekend.
Instead, he was part of the Northern Blues' side that lost to the Melbourne-aligned Casey Scorpions on Saturday.
But Laidley expects Cripps to be back in the AFL team after the bye.
"His body is adjusting to the rigours of AFL footy," Laidley said.
"We'd like to certainly play him as many games as we can this year in the senior side, without having a negative effect on his body and his ability to play a lot of games over a long period of time."