AFTER a strong finish to the 2019 AFL season, several new faces joining the Blues and the first full-season under David Teague, Carlton fans will be counting down the days until the Round 1 clash against the Tigers.
Here are just a few players to get excited about in 2020.
The New (Old) Blue:
Eddie Betts, back in the Navy Blue. Does it get any better than this?
The fan favourite and electric small forward made his return to Ikon Park for the first time since 2013 during the 2019 Telstra AFL Trade Period and will look to build on his 184 appearances and 290 goals in the Navy Blue.
Eddie’s career continued to grow while playing for the Crows, leading the team’s goalkicking during four of his six seasons, and becoming the third highest goalkicker in the Crow’s history.
Betts’ influence will spread far from just the field, with the veteran expected to share his vast knowledge of the game with the Blues’ emerging forward line.
When asked about his return to Carlton, Betts’ perhaps summed it up the best.
“It is good to be home.”
“The Carlton Football Club has always had a special place in my heart. I cannot wait to pull on that Navy Blue Guernsey again and run out in front of our passionate members and supporters.”
A rising Sun:
Supporters may have been disappointed at the end of the 2019 NAB AFL Trade Period when the Blues were unable to secure the services of talented young forward Jack Martin.
However, it would only be a matter of time before the ex-Sun would be walking through the doors of Ikon Park – officially becoming a Blue in the NAB AFL Pre-Season Draft.
Capable of producing a moment of magic, Martin oozes class and has shown immense potential across his 97 career games for the Gold Coast Suns.
The sky seems to be the limit for the 24-year-old who will get the opportunity to link up with his childhood idol Eddie Betts in the Carlton forward line, and provide support to the Blues’ tall trio of Charlie Curnow, Harry McKay and Mitch McGovern.
Expect to see Martin spending the majority of his time playing up forward, with occasional spurts in the midfield.
There will be no-one more excited for the beginning of the 2020 AFL season than Martin himself, who is looking to put a ‘stressful’ off-season behind him and hit the ground running.
“My family and I, we’re just excited and ready for the next journey, next chapter,” Martin said.
“Once I got the call and it went through, it was just a sense of relief.
“To be honest, I just can’t wait to play in front of big crowds and sort of experience it all. I’m excited for the journey that’s ahead.”
Our Jack of all trades.— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) November 28, 2019
Lock it in: Jack Martin is - officially - a ‘Bagger! 🔒#BoundByBlue
What’s up, Doc?:
After another frustrating season spent on the sidelines recovering from an ACL injury, co-captain Sam Docherty is edging closer to making his long-awaited return to Carlton’s backline.
Despite the disappointment of the last two seasons, Docherty’s off-field leadership has only improved in the face of adversity, leading the Club brilliantly as co-captain alongside Patrick Cripps.
The 2017 All Australian has worked with Carlton’s coaching staff and had an active role on game day in previous seasons, while his off-season trip to Philadelphia has him fit as ever leading into the upcoming campaign.
A cautious approach will still be taken with Docherty’s return with the co-captain expected to begin full training in January with an eye on taking to the field against the Tigers in Round 1.
"I probably won't train fully until mid-January, but I'll be in and out of certain things from day one. We're taking as much risk out as we can before I need to put my body and knee at risk before playing practice games and getting ready for the season,” Docherty said at the launch of the Marsh Community Series
"My aim has always been round one and that's been the way we've set my program up, to give me the best opportunity to be ready to go and to perform, and [to have] my knee feeling as good as it possibly can for Richmond in Round One."