“THERE’S a lot of pressure on the guys to keep at the same level that they were or take their game to a whole new level.”
Carlton will be taking a strength-in-numbers approach to its midfield game this season, according to assistant coach Brent Stanton.
With some emerging young midfield talent breaking through at the end of last season, all eyes have been on how the Blues’ on-ball brigade will shape up in 2020.
From Stanton’s point-of-view, the manner in which the players have taken ownership of their careers has been the big positive to take.
With a key focus on transition patterns this pre-season, Stanton said the midfield group was “building in the right direction”.
“We have really established what we stand for as a midfield group… they’ve really owned that and taken it to a new level,” Stanton told Carlton Media.
“They’re analysing, putting it into practice and coming to us with ideas rather than coaches always throwing things at them.
“The best teams in the competition have midfields which are able to transition forward and back consistently… it’s been our main focus.”
In the second half of last year, an established midfield group of Patrick Cripps, Ed Curnow and Marc Murphy were joined by emerging youngsters such as Will Setterfield and Sam Walsh.
Pleasingly from a midfield perspective, Stanton said players were making their actions do the talking in putting their hands up for selection.
The midfield coach envisaged that Carlton would have a greater number of faces roll through the clinches throughout the year.
“Michael Gibbons, we’re fortunate enough to have Jack Martin at the footy club, even Eddie Betts — these guys are going to have a bit more time [in the midfield],” he said.
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“I see seven or eight guys going through there at the moment. The players still have to earn their spot — we’re not just going to throw them in there.
“Everyone is working really hard in that area to put their hand up and say they’re ready to be an inside or outside midfielder. That added pressure for selection and spots will only help everyone.”
Stanton said that both new and returning Blues were impressing so far, with match simulation in recent weeks adding to that.
He believed the pre-season approach of players dictating the game style had resonated well with the playing group.
“Jack Newnes is one who has shown his running ability, his skills and his ball-use. It has really impressed me,” he said.
“Lochie O’Brien is building as a player: we forget that he is in his third year of football. We’ve got a really young group.
"Jack Silvagni has been training with the midfield group: we think that it’s only going to enhance his forward-line craft and when he goes forward, he can hopefully blow up key defenders.”