Date: July 02 2012
Reinforcements are on the way for under-siege Carlton, with classy defender Bryce Gibbs revealing two of the club's most important players - Marc Murphy and Jarrad Waite - could possibly be back within the next fortnight.
As the losses continue to mount and the threat of missing the finals becomes an increasing reality, Carlton supporters have asked themselves when will Murphy, the club's reigning best and fairest, and Waite, the team's best mark inside 50, will be ready to help the Blues turn their season around.
That question was answered today, with Gibbs revealing that Murphy - who has not played since injuring his shoulder in round eight - and Waite - who is battling an ongoing back complaint - could be available for selection as early as the Blues' round 17 game against the Western Bulldogs.
"We'll start getting some guys back in the next couple of weeks. Jarrad is back running and probably only a couple of weeks away, and Murph is only a couple of weeks as well," Gibbs said.
"So when we start to get a couple of these blokes back that is definitely going to help us."
The more immediate concern for the Blues is the shoulder injury to key defender Michael Jamison, who will know the outcome of scans this afternoon.
The full-back suffered shoulder soreness during the Blues loss to Hawthorn last Friday night and is in doubt for this Friday's blockbuster against Collingwood at the MCG.
The Blues have lost six of their past seven games to fall from premiership favourite early in the season to 10th spot after 14 rounds, but the club's draw does get slightly easier after this week's mega-challenge against the ladder-leading Pies, and having Murphy and Waite back in the team will only lift the team's sagging confidence.
Gibbs said the Blues were still sure they could make the finals, with games against North Melbourne, the Dogs, Richmond and Sydney in the following four weeks set to define their season.
"It's going to be pretty tough, there is a lot of teams in the mix, but there is still eight or nine games to go and we think we can win enough to get there," he said.
Gibbs also gave a strong endorsement of embattled coach Brett Ratten, saying he was certain he would see out his contract next season and brushed aside suggestions that he was coaching for his future in the next nine rounds.
"I've got no doubt he will be here next year. It's not Brett's coaching that has made us have losses over the past couple of weeks, it's been a combination of things," he said.
"Brett has been fantastic."
Gibbs also denied speculation that complaints from players were behind Ratten's decision to sit in the coaches' box last Friday night, instead of his customary spot on the bench at ground level.
"Personally, I like Ratts on the bench," Gibbs said.
"Coming off, he can give you feedback straight away and he can do the match-ups then and there. That is the first I've heard of that type of thing."
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