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Docherty loss creates opportunity

McKay on Docherty ACL Andrew McKay provides an update on Sam Docherty.

DESPITE defender Sam Docherty being ruled out of the 2018 season, the Blues are confident the void in the backline will be filled by one of the Club’s impressive youngsters.

The 24-year-old ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament at a pre-season training session on Wednesday. Despite the long-term nature of the injury, Head of Football Andrew McKay said the Blues would quickly look to the positives.

“It’s certainly very disappointing for us and particularly Sam to be out for the 2018 season,” McKay said.

“But we look at it now as it giving someone else an opportunity to step up. We have a number of young half-back flankers in the squad – Tom Williamson and the like – so it gives others opportunity. 

“It’s onwards and upwards and now, it has to be. Other guys will have an opportunity to help us get to where we want to go.”

Young defenders like Tom Williamson will have the opportunity to step up in the absence of Sam Docherty. (Photo: AFL Media)

Speaking with RSN on Thursday morning, McKay referenced the knee injury to former Blues captain Chris Judd in 2015, which saw the dominant emergence of impressive youngster Patrick Cripps.

“We saw Chris Judd go down a couple of years ago and then Patrick Cripps stepped up. Similarly, Sam Rowe went down last year and we found Liam Jones so that goes to show that it just gives others the opportunity to stand up,” he said.   

“We have to try and take some positive light out of the whole situation and it's not just giving others the opportunity, it’s the fact that Sam will still be around the Club and heavily involved in the leadership around the place.”

A widely regarded on-field leader at the Club, Docherty is set to use his time on the sidelines next season to continue to develop and educate the Blues’ young playing list.

“Sam has a real passion for footy and he’ll continue to help develop the young kids along too so he’ll definitely get something out of the year too and come back bigger and better in 2019,” McKay said. 

McKay said the injury would not change the way the Blues head into next week’s 2017 AFL National Draft in Sydney, with the Club currently holding picks 3, 10, 30 and 73.

“We feel we have others in the wings that will step up (in Sam’s absence). Certainly it's always hard to lose a player with the class of Sam but we’re not going to re-evaluate how we think we’ll go (in 2018),” he said. 

“It won’t change our mindset around our early picks, but it may have a bearing later on. We’ll wait and see on that.”