WILLIAMSTOWN star Michael Gibbons is edging closer to finally realising his AFL dream, with the midfielder invited to train with Carlton during its pre-season campaign.
The Blues confirmed on Thursday they have applied for Gibbons to join their squad as a train-on player, bolstering his hopes of potentially signing at Ikon Park.
Dandenong Stingrays youngster Matthew Cottrell has also been invited to train with the club, having missed out on being recruited during last month's NAB AFL Draft.
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Carlton retained one vacancy on its rookie list after the list lodgement deadline but could open a second availability following an ACL injury sustained by co-captain Sam Docherty.
It's understood the Blues had initially planned to save their spare rookie spot for next year's mid-season draft but could alter their plans and use at least one vacancy to replace Docherty through the AFL's recently introduced supplemental selection period (SSP) laws.
Under the new rules, clubs can sign previously listed footballers, or players who had previously applied for a NAB AFL Draft, to their rookie lists through until March 15, 2019.
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As a result, the 23-year-old Gibbons has since shot into Carlton's calculations as the Blues look to continue building their midfield depth with mature-aged talent.
Gibbons, a diminutive 175cm midfielder, is a dual JJ Liston Trophy winner, having won the VFL's highest individual honour in 2016 and 2018. He also finished second behind Richmond premiership player Jacob Townsend in 2017.
He averaged 28.6 disposals and seven clearances per game in the VFL last season, but wasn't drafted despite three of his Williamstown teammates finding their way onto AFL lists.
Dandenong youngster Matthew Cottrell is also in line for a rookie spot. Picture: AFL Photos
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Ben Cavarra went to the Western Bulldogs, while Lachlan Schultz and Brett Bewley were recruited to Fremantle, but Gibbons was bypassed in both the national and rookie drafts.
However, should he impress throughout Carlton's pre-season campaign, Gibbons could earn the chance to finally find himself on an AFL list ahead of the 2019 season.