CARLTON’S co-captains are both progressing well in their return from injury.
Defender Sam Docherty, who underwent minor ankle surgery in the off-season, has returned to training duties earlier than initially predicted with Director of High Performance Andrew Russell expecting a full return to training in coming weeks.
After an extended period on the sideline recovering from multiple ACL injuries, Russell believes Docherty will benefit from a slower off-season following his return to football in 2020.
“Doc’s progressing really well, we’re really pleased with the way he’s going,” Russell said.
“He’s had two years where he’s really pushed his body hard, one to get back from the ACLs and then a season of footy, so I actually think it might be to his advantage that he’s done a little bit less in pre season.”
Patrick Cripps has also recovered well following his post-season shoulder surgery, with Russell confident the star midfielder will be right to go in the coming weeks.
The 25-year-old will be looking to rebuild his strength over the pre-season period and reassert himself as one of the most dominant midfielders in the competition come the beginning of the 2021 season.
“He’s basically doing 95% of the training now, so he’s in great shape,” he said.
“He’s had a fantastic off-season, he worked hard on his body strength.
“We tried to make him a bit lighter last year and get his run up, but we’ve gone back to making him strong.”
Veteran forward Eddie Betts is also on track to return to training within the next few weeks after suffering a low-grade calf injury last week.
Russell was confident that Betts would not spend too much time on the sideline and would re-join pre-season training shortly.
Nic Newman is looking to join the main group this pre-season following a season-ending knee injury in 2020.
The crafty defender had little luck in 2020, undergoing surgery for an elbow injury following Round 1 before rupturing his patella tendon in Round 2.
Balancing his rehabilitation alongside coaching duties in 2020, Russell has been impressed by the professionalism displayed by Newman and believes he won’t be far off from a Round 1 return.
“Newy’s knee is going well. It takes a long time to get strength back in that leg after you’ve had such a significant injury,” he said.
“He’s still got a bit of work to do on that quad strength, glute strength and calf strength on that side but he’s progressing. He’s doing some skills.
“It won’t be too far away if he isn’t ready for Round 1.”
Fellow defender Caleb Marchbank and young Blue Brodie Kemp will also be poised to return in 2021.
Marchbank, who briefly returned in 2020, has been closely monitored after missing a significant period of football over the last two years – while Kemp will be working towards a Navy Blue debut in 2021.
“Marchy’s had a good block of work, but we feel like he needs more work given what he’s missed over the last few years,” he said.
“He’s had a good block of work but he just needs more time.
“Kemp is in a really similar spot to Docherty.
“He’s probably about three or four weeks away from doing everything in the ball program, but he’s adapting really well.”