CARLTON had its first hitout against external opposition for the 2021 pre-season, getting the win over Essendon by 21 points. 

Assistant coach Dale Amos was pleased with the way the Blues played out their four quarters, noting that their performance played out how the coaching group expected. 

“There were some good signs, probably what we expected but a few things still to work on: we're happy overall with what we achieved,” Amos said. 

“We moved the ball pretty well, we probably missed some targets going inside 50 but I thought our decision making was pretty good and it was good to see some different guys roll through there and start to create a bit of chemistry.” 

There were a few new faces gracing the Navy Blue, with Adam Saad, Zac Williams and Lachie Fogarty all making their first appearance in the practice match. 

When asked about Williams' work through the middle, Amos was clear that he will be rotated through the same as any of the other midfielders. 

“I think [Zac] like most of the mids - with the cap on rotations - they’re going to have to spend some time forward and he’s really dangerous as a forward. Like all of the other mids, it’ll be a combination,” he said. 

“He’s a nice complement to the guys we’ve got in there and it was good to see a different blend of guys, he played quite well in there.”

Apart from the new faces, some older faces were trying out new roles, with the likes of Marc Murphy and Will Setterfield moving out of the middle. 

“Murph’s really bought into playing a different role, it doesn’t mean he won’t play in the midfield but he and Zac Fisher are two that have really stood out as guys who have really played a fair bit of midfield time in the past and have really embraced playing different roles and a role for the team,” he said. 

“Will’s really become very versatile for us. He spent a bit of time on the wing as well. I think that ability of our midfielders to be inside and outside is something we’re working on to create more depth in that area.” 

Captain Patrick Cripps had an effective performance through the middle, with Amos noting that his pre-season work has held him in good stead. 

“[Cripps] is learning to play a slightly different role probably because we’ve got more depth through the midfield and I think that’s going to help his footy, the fact that he’s not shouldering the load and not having to win all the clearances,” he said. 

“He’s actually playing a role in there amongst the team and he can complement Paddy Dow and [Zac] Williams in there as well.” 

After Harry McKay left the field with an injury, Amos confirmed that it wasn't anything that they are worried about. 

"It was just a rolled ankle, he walked off the field," he said. 

"Early indication is that it's fine, we'll wait until next week but hopefully nothing too serious."