Brownlow fancy Patrick Cripps took part in the early warm-up before heading inside at Carlton training on Tuesday, but the Blues are adamant their superstar will be fit to tackle St Kilda on Saturday in his 100th game, in what will also be the clash of the caretaker coaches.
After being starved of team success in the first phase of his Carlton career, Cripps believes the clubs fortunes are beginning to turn and conceded he'd be "over the moon" if Greater Western Sydney star Stephen Coniglio decided to join him at Princes Park.
Cripps, 24, missed games earlier in the year with a foot injury and admitted the soreness was lingering but was confident the worst is behind him. After a Sunday game, it's not necessarily unusual for Cripps to miss training on a Tuesday.
Patrick Cripps speaks to the media on Tuesday.Credit:AAP
“It’s still there, but it’s nearly gone now. I just needed a few weeks to make sure," Cripps said in the build up to his milestone match.
"I think with feet, you don’t want to muck around with feet, so we just wanted to take the risk out of it, and once I was back playing there wasn’t much risk, so there shouldn’t be any problems going forward.”
Half-back flankers Nic Newman and Sam Petrevski-Seton only walked laps, while a trimmed-down Mitch McGovern trained strongly again, under the close watch of fitness boss Andrew Russell.
A player seemingly built for September, Cripps has never played in a final but he was bullish on Carlton's future prospects.
“It has been tough, I'm not going to lie,'' he said.
"There’s been some moments where you sit back and think, ‘geez, it would be nice to win a few more games.’
"But I think that’s going to be really important going forward, and something we build around the place.
"I think that’s going to turn really quickly. I already feel it has turned at the moment really quickly, and you can feel the momentum. So I think my best footy is ahead of me, and I think as a team our best footy is ahead of us too so I’m really looking forward to keep building on that.”
Something that will expedite the building process would be the arrival of Coniglio, who is believed to be still wrestling with the decision of whether to leave GWS.
The Blues have made a long-term contract offer to Coniglio, believed to be worth more than $1.3 million a season.
Hawthorn remain an interested party, and believe they are still a strong chance of acquiring his services, particularly given one of Coniglio's closest friends is Jaeger O'Meara.
“Anyone would be wrapped to have Stephen Coniglio come to your door, he’s a sensational player, so if he did come I would be over the moon," Cripps said with a smile.
The number of players Carlton recruit in the trade period may impact on whether one or both of veterans Kade Simpson and Dale Thomas receive contracts for next season.
Cripps gave both a ringing endorsement.
“I think with a young group it’s important you have really good leadership around you, and I still remember when I was a young kid and the amount I learnt off some of the older guys.”
“You look at the guys now – Marc Murphy, Ed Curnow, Kreuzer, Daisy, Simmo. Those guys, they lead strongly but it’s just their actions that the young guys learn a lot off.”
The Blues will consider former Saint Hugh Goddard to replace the injured Liam Jones for Saturday's game, otherwise they are likely to throw Levi Casboult back into defence and recall Matthew Kennedy or perhaps Alex Fasolo.
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