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Barker bullish on Charlie

Ashley Browne for AFL.com.au  December 21, 2017 9:02 AM

Amos on Sunshine Coast and Murphy Dale Amos spoke to the media as the pre-season training camp continues on the Sunshine Coast.

CHARLIE Curnow is shaping as Carlton's breakout player in 2018.

That's the view of longtime Blues assistant coach John Barker, who has now moved into a new role at Ikon Park as head of strategy and high performance.

Speaking on SEN on Thursday, Barker said the 20-year-old key forward, with 27 games under his belt, would be a significant player for Carlton in 2018.

"We don't want to place too much pressure on him, but he's got super athleticism, a massive tank and some speed too. He's gifted in that respect.

"But he has an innate ability in the contest and also reading the ball. He's good in the air, but there's nothing stopping him from going through the midfield and playing as a contested player in there," he said.

Barker also forecast that Patrick Cripps was in for a big season after his 2017 campaign ended prematurely because of a broken leg.

"He's a bull. He's basically done 90 per cent of the pre-season, which is scary. His contest is outstanding and his presence and leadership around the club is significant and he has a strong impact when he plays."

The Blues will be without star defender Sam Docherty for the season, but Barker is hopeful that Caleb Marchbank and Lachie Plowman will help fill the void.

"There's real opportunities for young guys to step in to that role and be the real general down there," he said.

"But really good defences in the AFL need more than one general and more than one organiser down there. We're pretty hopeful they'll step up."

Barker is also anticipating that breakout 2017 key defender Liam Jones will continue his development after a summer spent exclusively learning the craft.

"From a mindset point of view, the challenges of the last few years will ring true in his mind," he said.

Barker says the Blues have yet to finalise their plans for AFLX.

Carlton has been drawn alongside Essendon, Hawthorn, Melbourne, North Melbourne and St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on February 16, but he did predict it will be lightning quick and entertaining and likely a hit with supporters.

Carlton's first JLT Community Series clash is with St Kilda on February 28 at Ikon Park and the Blues then open the home and away season against Richmond at the MCG on March 22.