Carlton coach David Teague faces the prospect of a second straight match without key forward and Coleman Medal leader Harry McKay as he continues to battle a toe injury.
The Coleman Medal leader injured his toe in the fourth quarter of the round 18 victory against Collingwood, a quarter where he kicked four goals to help Carlton secure a big win but was a late withdrawal before the Blues clash with North Melbourne last week.
McKay was listed as an “outside chance” to make his return this week by head of high-performance Andrew Russell earlier in the week on the club’s official injury report and, at this stage, is unlikely to take his place on Friday night against St. Kilda having not recovered enough.
“He’s got to get through training before we consider him to be able to play,” Teague said.
“He’s got some markers that he’ll have to hit, at this stage it’s unlikely but he says he’s progressed a lot over the weekend and is feeling a lot better”
It’s a blow for the Blues and the besieged Teague who is under fire again after his side’s second-half capitulation against the Kangaroos which has put the spotlight once again on Teague’s coaching tenure.
Teague’s future has been a topic of much discussion since incoming President Luke Sayers commissioned an external review of the football department which is said to be nearing completion. With the talk getting louder outside about the state of the club, Teague remains resolute in his belief in the playing group, despite the performance against the Kangaroos not being up to standard, the team trademarks, and values.
“We didn’t live up to our trademark and values. The players and the coaches got together, had some honest conversations and we owned it: we all agreed that it wasn’t to the level that we’ve put up in the past, but more importantly, the level we expect to put up and what we demand of each other.”
Although, there might be some respite coming as Charlie Curnow is on the cusp of returning to senior football after two years on the sidelines.
The 24-year-old has battled a series of knee injuries since July 2019 and has played two scratch matches over the past 2 weeks to build some form and match practice.
Teague said if Curnow could pass Carlton’s main training session today, he would be a chance to suit up against St Kilda on Friday night.
“Charlie was keen to play last week and put his hand up, but we weren’t going to rush the process,” Teague said.
“We stuck to our plan and he got through that well. He’s available for selection and if he gets through training today, that’s potentially what will happen in terms of picking him, which will give him a chance to play AFL football again.
“There’s excitement. He annoyed the living daylights out of me last week wanting to play. For one, he thought he was capable and ready to go, and two it was Ed’s 200th. He came to me at the start of this week and said ‘I’m not going to annoy you this week, but I’m ready to go again.”
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The Blues could also turn to forgotten forward Mitch McGovern who himself is returning after a long injury layoff. McGovern has not been seen at AFL or VFL level since the Round 7 win over Essendon when he injured his hamstring late in the fourth quarter. McGovern has been slated to make his return to football at some level this week, but Teague said there is a discussion to be had about what level the 26-year-old returns.
“It’s going to be up for debate. Ideally, it would be at VFL level: we play our best footy with our tall targets when they give us an option and get the ball to ground to let our smalls get to work.
“We’ll have a look at match committee after training, his name is getting mentioned as a possibility purely because of the situation we’re in.”