Almost three months after suffering an ankle injury first seen as a three-week layoff, Marc Murphy’s plans to return to the AFL this year have been shelved.
In keeping with their safety-first approach to treating the syndesmosis injury, Carlton coach Brendon Bolton says the club hasn’t seen enough progress to allow their skipper to return for Sunday’s round 22 match with Melbourne.
Given that leaves just one match in the Blues’ season, Bolton said on Friday it was “probably the end” for the 29-year-old’s year.
“It’s been really frustrating for Murph and us. It’s been one of those injuries that just niggled and stayed around,” Bolton said.
“We’ve approached it in a really professional manner and ticked every box … we’ve looked after Murph and never pushed him to a position where he was going to re-injure.
“There was no setback. It was just slow in getting it right.
“We tested him this week and he’s still just not quite right.
“That’s probably his season now.”
The high ankle sprain is notoriously hard to diagnose and treat.
Other AFL players – including Travis Cloke, Dale Thomas and James Kelly – have suffered multi-week layoffs with similar injuries in past years.
The upside is Murphy can enter pre-season without any late season wear and tear, having played only the opening 10 rounds of 2016.
“He’ll be able to steady for the next month and then hit pre-season full on,” Bolton said.
“Murph will be a real recruit for us next year.”
Bolton wasn’t in the mood to talk about other recruits on Friday morning, as the club continues to be linked with moves for mature-age players including Ty Vickery.
The Tasmanian coach said he would “never” talk about specific players.
“It’s our duty to draft well this year and it’s also important we’re open-minded to trading,” he said.
“We’re interested in building our young depth primarily through drafting because we want to be a sustainably strong club.
“These days it’s always a combination of that and trading.”
He confirmed he wanted out-of-contract forward Levi Casboult to remain with the Blues in 2017.
“I want Levi at our club. He gives us a really strong target up forward. He’s important to us,” he said.