Sport Carlton coach downplays Cripps' injury

05:50  13 may  2021
05:50  13 may  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Carlton coach David Teague has attempted to ease concerns over Patrick Cripps' fitness, denying the Blues co-captain has a fractured back.

a man with a rugby ball: A back injury suffered in pre-season has impacted on Patrick Cripps' AFL performances for Carlton. © Scott Barbour/AAP PHOTOS A back injury suffered in pre-season has impacted on Patrick Cripps' AFL performances for Carlton.

The Age reported on Thursday that the star midfielder has been playing with a fracture in his back that has required weekly injections.

Cripps has been below his best for most of 2021 but has put his hand up to play in all eight matches for the Blues.

The 26-year-old trained at Ikon Park on Thursday and is preparing to feature in the Blues' (3-5) clash with undefeated Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday.

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"He's fine. He's doing all the training, you watch training today he'll compete in everything," Teague said.

"He doesn't have a fractured back.

"He had a sore back at the start of the year but not now, everything healed now, he's fine."

When asked if Cripps ever had a fractured back this year, Teague responded: "He had a sore back, I'm not sure what the actual findings were."

Teague said Carlton had given no thought to resting Cripps, who is an out-of-contract free agent at year's end.

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The Age report suggested Cripps has had reduced movement below his knees, but is not at risk of making his back worse by continuing to play.

"I think he's been completing full training since round two or three so it's not an issue now," Teague said.

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"You talk about it if you want, but it's in the past.

"I know he had a sore back, we managed that from a management point of view, but he's fine now.

"The story right now should be is Crippa right to play?

"Yes he is, so that's exciting for us and our fans.

"Crippa's in great shape right now."

Teague also defended another highly scrutinised Blues player, Zac Williams.

The former GWS flyer, who arrived at Carlton on a big-money deal in the off-season, collected just nine touches in the loss to the Western Bulldogs last Sunday.

"Has he played as well as he would like and we would like? Probably not, but there's always a challenge going to a new club," Teague added.

"Some people go to a new club, they grow and get better immediately, but then other people it takes a bit longer to adjust.

"We believe in his talent and we think from a longer term picture he will be a very good footballer for this club."

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