With a free and fit Mitch McGovern headlining several big inclusions, there is a feeling this could be the week David Teague’s rejuvenated Carlton finally get one over Richmond.
The Blues haven’t defeated their old rivals since Chris Judd led his team to victory at a packed MCG in the first week of the 2013 AFL finals.
But there’s no doubting the momentum the Blues have generated since Teague took over as interim coach, nor the quality of their inclusions.
News has also emerged that Tigers superstar Dustin Martin will miss Sunday’s game due to unspecified “soreness”, replaced by first-year player Jack Ross.
Blues ruckman Matthew Kreuzer will return after spending a fortnight on the sidelines with hip soreness, Liam Jones is back after missing last week’s game due to a family bereavement and veteran Dale Thomas has recovered from illness.
McGovern looms as a particularly significant addition, having been axed last month after battling with his fitness since arriving from Adelaide.
The 24-year-old underwent a gruelling four-week training block in which he was whipped into shape by Blues fitness boss Andrew Russell.
Teague said the key forward had built up from having barely trained at all ahead of games to completing three sessions per week.
“He’s moving on the training track like he’s free, he says he’s feeling really good about himself,” Teague said.
“Physically, I think he’ll actually run out games a little bit better than he was because of the conditioning he’s got into himself. We’re excited to have him available this weekend.”
The Blues aren’t expecting miracles from McGovern in his first game back but his presence alone should improve their forward line efficiency.
Having won their past six games, the Tigers are well-placed to secure a top-four finish.
Coach Damien Hardwick said Teague’s decision to put Marc Murphy and Ed Curnow on the ball had transformed the way the Blues played.
“They’re playing a lot more adventurous, I would say,” Hardwick said.
“They’re scoring a lot better off turnover. That’s the challenge for us, to deny their turnover scores and deny their ball movement.
“That’s become a little bit more aggressive and more assertive but a lot of it’s linked through the experience they’ve put back through the midfield.”