Barker pledges hard work for Blues in AFL

Caretaker Carlton coach John Barker has put the heat on the players at the embattled AFL club, promising a once-over of their list.

A day after the Blues sacked Mick Malthouse, Barker said the only solution for Carlton’s woes on the field was plenty of hard work.

The most glaring feature of Carlton’s woeful season has been a lack of effort, particularly in this month’s heavy losses to Collingwood, GWS and Geelong.

The crisis hit flashpoint on Tuesday morning, when Malthouse gave a provocative radio interview that sealed his fate.

Carlton sacked him a few hours later and promoted Barker from his assistant coaching role to be in charge of the team for the rest of the season.

As if the task was not hard enough for Barker, the Blues confirmed on Wednesday that key players Bryce Gibbs (back) and Chris Judd (knee) are sidelined.

Barker will have a fierce coaching debut on Friday night when the Blues play Sydney at the SCG.

“We need to drive some core competitiveness back into this team,” Barker told the club website.

“We’re looking to have a real once-over of our list, to see where we’re at and where certain players are at.

“We need to try some things and learn some things.”

In his first public comments as Carlton senior coach, Barker said the Blues had to roll their sleeves up and get to work.

“It’s just about hard work, really – the basics,” Barker said.

“We’re under no illusions about the hard work that needs to take place.

“It’s not about any individual that needs to work hard, it’s about all of us working hard as a collective.

“We need to grow and drive our way through this.”

Barker also joined widespread praise for Malthouse, whose coaching career is now over.

“He’s had such a positive impact on so many environments and so many individuals, including myself,” Barker said.

Malthouse will speak to Fox Footy on Thursday night about his sacking.

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