It might have taken a worldwide pandemic to do so, but for the first time in seven long years, Carlton are back in the top 8.

Five years after starting again and rebuilding the list almost from scratch, Carlton finds itself in a position where it is still in contention for finals football despite it being over a third of the way through the year.

Carlton’s defence is organised with the return of Sam Docherty and the form of its key pillars in Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones.

Its midfield is slowly but surely developing new layers of depth so its not just Patrick Cripps, Ed Curnow, Marc Murphy and Sam Walsh to shoulder the load.

Also, the forward line is starting to kick some winning scores and looks like it finally has some functionality about it. 

At the conclusion of last season, it was clear that the area of the Blues list that needed to be addressed was its medium/small forward ranks and went on the record stating that is what they were targeting.

They chased the likes of Tom Papley, Jack Martin and Eddie Betts.

While the Blues failed to ultimately get Papley through the door, the Blues could well be satisfied with how the remainder of the off season panned out for them.

They say the best things in life are free, and that is exactly what Jack Martin is proving to be for Carlton.

He would have dreamed of running out in front of the big Carlton faithful on the MCG and showing the AFL world all his talent on the big stage.

While he hasn’t performed in front of the Blues supporter base just yet, they are salivating and what they will see when they can go back to the footy as he is one of the key reasons this Carlton side is improving.

For most of recent seasons, Carlton has failed to score and build up meaningful scoring chains.

Usually breaking down in the final two stages of completing the chain: delivering the ball inside 50 then kicking the goal.

The acquisition of Martin has had almost instant affect. 

In a more attacking game style under David Teague, Carlton is ranked fourth in the league for points per game.

Jack Martin is ranked fourth in the league for score involvements, equal sixth for total goal assists and seventh for total marks inside 50.

He also sits inside the top 20 in the goalkicking race along with two other Blues, proving that the forward line is functioning. 

His versatility around the ground has also been a major asset in David Teague’s game-plan.

With the ability to go into the middle and spend time on ball, Martin has found himself as a key part of the midfield rotations in the early part of the year.

Attending centre bounces on regular occasions throughout games.

In Round three, in Carlton’s breakthrough win down in Geelong, Martin attended 21 centre bounces, further showing all the talent he possesses. 

For a while, Carlton knew what it was getting in Jack Martin, the impact he has had on the group in such a short period has been profound.

His intensity and standards on the training track has lifted the standards and his teammates are following his lead.

For all intents and purposes, the move south has been a blessing and Martin is finally poised to deliver on talent that saw him selected as the best 17-year-old in the country all those years ago.

Carlton will be hoping Martin brings all his flare, strength, and skills again as it looks to solidify its place in the top 8 when it faces Port Adelaide tomorrow.

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