ANDREW Walker's recovery from knee surgery has been slower than expected but Carlton is hopeful the half-back will play some part in its NAB Challenge campaign.
Walker had knee surgery in July last year after managing lingering soreness for much of 2014's first 17 rounds.
The 28-year-old has not made the trip to Mt Buller this week for Carlton's five-day training camp.
But Carlton coaching director Rob Wiley said on Thursday Walker had started running again and remained some chance of playing the Blues' final two NAB Challenge games.
"He's just been a little bit slow and it's a matter of just monitoring him and maintaining a smart sort of way of training," Wiley said.
"But he'll be like a new recruit coming in having missed a fair part of last year.
"The good thing about Andrew is he's a very fit young man, he's got that ability to come through with his athleticism. He'll just fit back in nicely.
"We're hoping that he'll be right for the last couple of (NAB Challenge) games, so it's a matter of playing quite a few (players) so we have good numbers to choose from coming to round one.
"We'll manage the whole list to make sure they have enough match fitness."
The Blues play their opening NAB Challenge game against West Coast in Mandurah on February 27, then take on Collingwood on March 15 in Bendigo and Geelong on March 22 at Etihad Stadium.
Carlton opens the home and away season against Richmond on April 2 at the MCG.
Wiley was speaking at the Mansfield Football and Netball Club, where the Blues had just completed a 90-minute skills session that included about 30 minutes of match practice.
A cleanly shaven Levi Casboult starred up forward and received good support from former Western Bulldog Liam Jones, while Dale Thomas moved as well as he has for several years in the midfield.
Young tall Kristian Jaksch also showed he was over his foot injury during the spirited session but Chris Judd, Matthew Kreuzer, Chris Yarran, Patrick Cripps, Kade Simpson and Troy Menzel were among a small group confined to lighter duties.
Cripps, Simpson and Yarran were all injured this week, Simpson rolling his right ankle at Visy Park on Tuesday morning and Yarran (left calf) and Cripps (right ankle) both injuring themselves at Mt Buller.
Wiley said all three injuries were minor, with Cripps expected to return to training next week.
"(We've had) a few little niggles, but as the intensity increases at this time of the year, you're going to get a few of those, that's the nature of our game," Wiley said.