“THE PLAYERS have come back in very good shape, they’re in much better shape than they were this time last year.

“I know every club says that, but the reality is that they are.”

Director of High Performance Andrew Russell said that Carlton’s players have returned and hit the ground running this pre-season.

With the players having been back for three weeks, Russell and the high-performance staff have been an able to cast a keen eye over the playing group.

In comparison to 12 months ago, Russell couldn’t have been more emphatic in his praise for the team’s condition.

Setting “pretty high standards” over the break, Russell said that all players matched what was asked of them.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that are moving on the track exceptionally well,” Russell said.

“We did have a lot of guys that ran particularly well in their time-trial tests, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s irrelevant.

“All that it says is that the boys are in good shape and ready to transfer that good condition into some high-level skills training before Christmas, and then into game-play training after Christmas.”

Russell provided an update on Harry McKay, who ended the 2019 season as Carlton’s leading goalkicker.

Having ended the season with groin soreness, Russell said that McKay was currently undertaking a modified program.

“We gave Harry a short period of rest and his groins settled down really well. As we built him up slowly, his groins got a little bit sore,” he said.

“We’ve had to pull him back a little bit and re-strengthen that area.

“We’ll progress him back into ball work in the new year.”

With Wednesday’s news about Charlie Curnow, Russell said that the key forward’s surgery had gone “really well” overnight.

The Director of High Performance said all at the Club were confident of Curnow making a full recovery.

“It’s a new injury: it’s not exactly the same as the one he had,” he said.

“We’re really confident that Charlie is going to be back and in good shape.

“The program that we put in place will be a really solid and robust program so that when you see him again, he’s going to be moving extremely well.”