Blues must work hard against Suns in AFL

Carlton will look to consolidate recent gains under interim AFL coach John Barker on Sunday when they take on Gold Coast.

The reinvigorated Blues impressed against Adelaide in Barker’s second game in charge, following the departure of Mick Malthouse, before upsetting Port Adelaide last week for their second win of the season.

Barker has unshackled his players and made aggression in tackling a focus, and assistant coach Rob Wiley says it’s important for them to see some reward for the effort.

“They’d worked hard, they have since November, but you get your confidence from winning games,” Wiley told AAP.

“The Suns have got some good players back but the test for us is to sustain that effort that we were able to display against Port Adelaide.

“The boys have trained really well this week and we’ve got full confidence that they will be able to maintain that effort.”

Carlton and Gold Coast have taken turns languishing at the bottom of the ladder, but the Blues’ win over the Power has lifted them to 16th, with the Suns still last after just one victory.

Barker’s task in guiding his side higher has been made easier with dual Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett’s much-anticipated return from a shoulder injury put off for another week.

Rodney Eade’s squad has been decimated by injuries this season but he has recalled four players – Steven May, Harley Bennell, Alex Sexton and Sam Day – for the clash.

The Blues lost Bryce Gibbs to a contentious two-week suspension for his sling tackle on Port’s Robbie Gray and Andrew Walker to a knee injury, with David Ellard and Nick Holman their replacements.

Full-back Michael Jamison was named in an extended squad on Thursday but dropped back to the emergency list, with another match at VFL level deemed necessary in his comeback from a calf injury.

Carlton’s forwards came in for criticism as the club’s season spiralled downwards, but the Blues booted 14 goals against the Crows and 17 against Port.

Wiley said it had been unfair to blame all of the team’s woes on a misfiring forward line.

“We haven’t been able to get the footy in there enough but, the last two weeks, we’ve been able to do that better,” he said.

“So that at least gives your forwards opportunities, which is important, but they’ve been able to make the most of those opportunities, too.”

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