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Knee setback for Graham

Ben Collins  March 6, 2013 9:01 AM

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Carlton draftee Nick Graham has had an impressive pre-season.

Carlton draftee Nick Graham's hopes of making his AFL debut early this season have been dashed after suffering a knee injury that will sideline him for up to eight weeks.

Three other Blues have also been ruled out of the NAB Cup clash with Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Friday night, with fellow midfielder David Ellard (hamstring) and rookie-listed pair Andrew Collins (ankle) and Rhys O'Keeffe (heel) to each miss up to five weeks.

Jarrad Waite (calf) is still two weeks away from resuming training and remains in doubt for Carlton's season-opener against Richmond.

The good news for the Blues, however, is that all other players are available for selection, including former skipper Chris Judd and reigning best and fairest winner Heath Scotland, both of whom are yet to have an official pre-season hitout.

Carlton football manager Andrew McKay revealed on Tuesday that Graham was having arthroscopic surgery that day.

"Depending on what they find there – he just had some swelling and discomfort in that knee – that's probably looking up towards around eight weeks (out)," he told carltonfc.com.au.

The news is a considerable blow, given that the 18-year-old former Gippsland Power star had impressed in the Blues' two intra-club matches.

The winner of last year's Morrish Medal as the TAC Cup's best and fairest player, Graham is already considered a steal at pick 54 in last year's NAB AFL Draft.

Meanwhile, Andrew Carrazzo – the favourite to replace Chris Judd as Carlton captain – will take his turn at leading the Blues on Friday night.

Blues coach Mick Malthouse said Carrazzo "leads very well on the ground (and) has a very strong opinion and voice".

The coach also applauded fellow captaincy candidate Kade Simpson for his leadership role in the 70-point win over Fremantle on Saturday night.

The others in line for the job are Marc Murphy, Nick Duigan and Jarrad Waite.

"We've really struck gold here with our choices of our five (member leadership group)," Malthouse told www.carltonfc.com.au. "Our leadership group is very solid, very strong, (and) it's upholding our want. So this will be a great test for Andrew again."