INTERIM coach David Teague has challenged his Carlton youngsters to step up in the absence of Patrick Cripps.
The co-captain has been sidelined for the first time since 2017, with a foot injury seeing the Blues without their midfield bull for the trip west.
Speaking to media on Friday morning, Teague shed some light on Cripps’ injury and said he was looking forward to what the young midfield brigade could produce.
“He hurt his foot against the Bulldogs — he finished the game but he hasn’t pulled up, even with the bye,” Teague said.
“It’s a great opportunity for our other midfielders to step up. He’s led the way and it’s a chance for the other guys to put their hand up, own that area and show what they can do.”
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Full squad selection out now.#BoundByBlue
While the final team will be announced at 5pm on Friday, the Blues will endeavour to replace Cripps in the only way possible: across the board.
Ahead of his third game as interim coach, Teague said the midfield battle presented a big opportunity for its burgeoning midfield stocks.
“We’ll bring someone else to play in the midfield for Patrick… [but] it will be a group of players shouldering that load to replace him,” he said.
“Sam Walsh, Samo Petrevski-Seton, Paddy Dow — these guys will get a lot more of a chance to compete against good opposition.
“At times, we have relied too heavily on [Cripps]… we’re looking forward to the challenge, as a coaching group and I know the players are.”
Coming in off the back of the bye, Carlton has taken the chance to refine its craft and game style over the last fortnight.
With glimpses shown against Brisbane and the Western Bulldogs, Teague said he couldn’t help but be excited by the prospect of stringing it all together.
“From game-to-game, you probably only get one solid hitout whereas we’ve had three, and it’s allowed us to work on some of the tweaks we’ve made to our game style,” he said.
“I thought our ball-use against the Bulldogs was very good, that kept us in the game. Against Brisbane, I thought our defence and ability to win the contest was quite strong.
“We haven’t put it together totally yet and the exciting thing for me is when we do put it together, we’re going to be very hard to beat. We’re going to have to put it together this week.”