Carlton are determined to leave the carnage of their disappointing opening to the AFL season behind them, starting with Saturday’s clash with Port Adelaide.
Caretaker coach John Barker says last week’s bye helped mentally refresh his players after a horror 10-game stretch where the Blues managed just one win, sacked coach Mick Malthouse and lost veteran star Chris Judd to a career-ending knee injury.
A much-improved Carlton led Adelaide late in their last match before the bye and Barker said that level of effort must become the baseline for his players as they look to salvage something from their season.
“That’s the challenge going forward and we know that good teams give that effort consistently,” Barker said.
“The boys have trained really well this week coming off the bye, they’ve had a bit of a spell and rejuvenated, so hopefully we get that (effort).
“We’re keen to change things and learn some things going forward. The effort needs to be standard and from there we can grow what we do and grow our game plan.”
Chris Yarran returns to the side to face the Power at the MCG, along with Bryce Gibbs, who has recovered from a back injury.
Yarran missed the tight loss to the Crows after he was slapped with a one-match ban for failing to meet club standards, fuelling speculation he could possibly find himself on the trade block or was even eyeing an exit from the club himself.
“There’s never been any question about whether Chris wants to be a Carlton player long-term,” Barker said.
“He’s a quality player. He played really well in the VFL – gave effort.
“What we stand for, he delivered on.”
Barker expressed similar confidence that Lachie Henderson would remain at the club despite the in-demand forward’s desire to wait until later in the season to decide his playing future beyond this year.
Tenth-placed Port regained Jackson Trengove in one of five changes ahead of the clash as they look to rebound from last week’s loss to Geelong and climb back into contention for a top four spot.
“We’re under no illusions as to how good a football team they are,” Barker said.
“They might have been a little bit off last week but I think that will only spur them to be very good (on Saturday).
“There’s a lot of things you have to do well (against them). They’ve got a great midfield and they’ve got a very good forward line. If they get it in there with some sort of quality we know we’re going to have a real fight on our hands.”
The Blues will play their first match since Judd’s retirement and have also lost Robert Warnock and Dale Thomas to shoulder surgeries over the bye.
In better news, regular fullback Michael Jamison will play in the VFL this week as he steps up his comeback from a calf injury that has sidelined him since round four.