KEY BLUES Patrick Cripps, Ed Curnow and Caleb Marchbank are set to return from injury on day one of pre-season training, with Carlton confident of opening its 2018 preparations with close to a full training squad. 

Cripps and Curnow were sorely missed in Carlton's midfield in the latter part of this season, with Cripps sidelined after breaking his left fibula against Melbourne in round 16 and Curnow sidelined after suffering a small split to his larynx in round 14 against Richmond.

Carlton football manager Andrew McKay told both midfielders would be fit for the start of pre-season training in November. 

"Patrick is out of any sort of brace and off crutches and moving and running now. He's got no problems with his leg, he'll be 100 per cent at the start of pre-season," McKay said. 

"If the season went much longer Ed would have played. The larynx ended up having a little split in it, which the initial MRI didn't pick up, but the follow-up showed a little split and the specialist said he couldn't play until it healed. 

"But Ed is fine now and will be right for the start of pre-season."

Marchbank enjoyed an impressive first season at Ikon Park after crossing from Greater Western Sydney in last year's trade period, playing the first 14 games before a hairline fracture in his right shoulder and then a pinched nerve in his arm sidelined him for six of the final eight rounds.  

McKay said the Blues had erred on the side of caution in not playing Marchbank in the final three rounds, principally to ensure he avoided on-going problems with the shoulder he had reconstructed in his final season at GWS. 

"Like Ed, if the season had gone a couple of weeks longer Caleb would have played, but he's fine now," McKay said.

"When you get a pinched nerve like that you lose a lot of strength in the shoulder. We were just concerned because that was the shoulder he had reconstructed the year before, so we needed to make sure that it was strong before we let him play again."

The only Blues expected to be on modified programs at the start of the pre-season are Jack Silvagni (shoulder), Harry McKay (toe), Sam Rowe (knee) and Cameron Polson (shoulder). 

Silvagni had surgery in August to repair a labral tear that had made his shoulder loose and prone to subluxations – partial dislocations – while Polson had a shoulder reconstruction in July. 

McKay said the pair should start running from day one of pre-season training, but would not resume contact drills until late November.  

Key forward McKay had surgery in August to remove bone spurs from his toe, which were restricting its range of movement. 

The Blues football boss said the operation was a success and McKay was expected to return to full training in about mid-November.

Rowe is returning from a ruptured right anterior cruciate ligament suffered in the Blues' round nine loss to Fremantle. 

McKay said the Rowe's rehabilitation was "progressing really well", with the key defender on target to play again in next year's JLT Community Series. 

Of the other Blues whose 2017 seasons ended early because of injury, McKay said.

Patrick Kerr (hip surgery in July), Dylan Buckley (knee surgery in August), Alex Silvagni (knee bone bruising), Simon White (knee), Andrew Phillips (foot surgery in June) and Ciaran Byrne (ankle) were expected to start pre-season training on time.