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Sport Harry McKay to play for Blues against Saints on Friday night

08:08  12 july  2018
08:08  12 july  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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Harry McKay , Aaron Mullett and Pat Kerr – who were emergencies against Brisbane – may also be considered for selection, but didn’t play at the weekend because of a bye for Carlton’s VFL affiliate the Northern Blues . On Friday night ’s clash against the Saints .

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The Carlton key forward, taken at pick 10 in the 2015 draft, will play his ninth senior game, and seventh for the season, when the bottom-of-the-ladder Blues take on fellow bottom four side St Kilda on Friday night at Etihad Stadium.

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Belted by 11 goals by the Brisbane Lions - another of the bottom sides - last Saturday at the Gabba, the blowtorch has again been on Carlton this week, with McKay’s absence from the senior side a talking point.

Coach Brendon Bolton again explained that regular issues with McKay’s body had prevented the key forward from getting a sustained run in the AFL, but that Andrew Phillips’ season-ending hamstring tendon injury had opened the door for McKay to return.

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"Unfortunately, for two years – and he was already very young in his draft – he was hampered by a back injury … and then a significant turf toe injury,” Bolton said.

"His first two years are practically a wipe-out in terms of training. He was then hampered into this pre-season, which was his third.

"He then built up some consistency and got some AFL games, which we all saw and witnessed. He went out of the team and since then, there hasn't been a lot of continuity. He got quite ill with the flu and missed a lot of training in that period.

"Only in the last three weeks or so has he got good continuity back. Andrew Phillips going out, that circumstance helps, and some continuity at training helps. He'll get an opportunity based on that.

"There's the whole picture over a three-year period. It's clear and laid out."

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Bolton said he was keen for McKay to succeed, comparing the 20-year-old to Lion Eric Hipwood.

"Me, more than anyone at this football club, started with Harry in that draft. That crew that started with me, I'm really keen to see do well and I really hope he does.

"No one, including me, wants Harry to not be a great AFL player, or we're deliberately holding him back. We've just had to make informed decisions based on what I've just outlined.

"He uses the ball well, so we want him to use that agility and mobility.

"But when it's his turn in the contest, we want him to launch at it and play with a free spirit."

Jacob Weitering (calf) and Matthew Wright (general soreness) are both also out this week. Kade Simpson will return from a week out with calf tightness, while defender Caleb Marchbank has been cleared to play by a cardiologist after being hospitalised having experienced an irregular heartbeat against the Lions.

Bolton said 2018 had been the toughest year of his coaching career to date, but insisted the Blues remained united despite being held to just one win this year.

“Our club’s really determined and focused. The game can’t come quickly enough. We confronted what we needed to on Monday, and the whole focus has been around maintaining energy in our football club.

“We’re trying to be defined by pressure. We’re not there yet, but that’s our aim and goal We’re working really hard to chase a win, there’s no doubt about that.

“The morale [at the club] is strong. We’re not satisfied, we’re really determined and focused to get that next win.

“I’m really proud of our club staying united. I’m proud of our playing group sticking the course.”

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