The Blues are on the up and their green shoots are quickly becoming young stars.
The improvement of Carlton’s youth has put pressure on the Blues to make a call on some of their veterans.
Marc Murphy, Matthew Kreuzer, Kade Simpson and Eddie Betts are all north of 30 and out of contract at season’s end.
Murphy is closing in on another one-year deal, the former captain set to sign in the coming weeks.
Kreuzer hasn’t played since the opening minutes of Round 1, when he injured his foot, and has been replaced by young duo Marc Pittonet and Tom De Koning.
Simpson is the oldest player on the list and second-oldest in the AFL. The Blues have no shortage of players along the half-back line and some are waiting in the wings should Simpson call it a day.
Betts has been seen as the most likely to say farewell, his goal output has been down, but his pressure has been as good as ever and he recently found goal-scoring form again.
But Carlton don’t need to rush any of these champions out and should avoid doing so. How they leave the club is just as important as whether they do or not.
While the Blues need to give younger players an opportunity, they can’t do so at the abandonment of experience. The club has a lack of players in their prime years and need the wise heads to help the youngsters learn and develop.
While Murphy will probably play most games as the Blues lack serious midfield depth, keeping Betts, Kreuzer and Simpson doesn’t mean the Blues owe them 22 games next year.
Betts’ place depends on a trade for Sydney small forward Tom Papley. If the Blues land their man, Betts’ services may not be needed or at best he will be the second-choice small forward.
Betts is locked in to a job at Carlton in 2021 should he retire but he is keen to play on.
Kreuzer is keen to go around again, however his body is the issue, the 2007 number one draft pick has long been riddled with injuries. De Koning is seen as his replacement but before this year’s injury, the Carlton hierarchy believed they had more years left in Kreuzer.
Pittonet has been good but has slowly faded out of form as the year has rolled on, an indication that maybe one more year for Kreuzer may be best.
The Blues have plenty of half backs with the likes of Tom Williamson, Sam Docherty, Sam Petrevski-Seton all playing that role this year, while Nic Newman will return next year from injury, but Simpson can play as a back up
nother tick in the Simpson box is the soft cap reduction – Carlton have already had to let go of some development staff so retaining an experienced player would help with the development of youth.
There’s little to be gained by letting any of thee players go, while the positives stand clear.
If anything, for the years of service these players deserve the right to go out on their own terms in front of their fans.