Australian Football

Blues hit hard by injuries

Carlton's Brett Ratten has never tasted victory as a coach against Hawthorn but he feels the Blues are on track to break an eight-game losing streak against the premiership favourites.

 
Blues hit hard by injuries - Australian FootballOther Agency
 

Victory on Friday night at the MCG would be Carlton's first in four AFL games and lift their win-loss record to 7-6.

But another defeat would be a crushing blow to the ninth-placed side's finals hopes, with a daunting assignment to come in round 15 against competition leaders Collingwood.

Sixth-year coach Ratten, whose personal record against Hawthorn's Alastair Clarkson stands at 0-4, continues to sweat on the fitness of key forward Jarrad Waite.

The 194cm Waite, who has been out since round seven with a back injury, will do running drills this week and is likely to miss at least two more matches.

Sixth-placed Hawthorn haven't lost to the Blues since 2005, which was two years before Ratten took over at Carlton.

However two of the Blues' past three defeats against the Hawks have been by two goals or less.

"We're getting closer," Ratten told reporters on Tuesday.

"In my time we haven't had great success against them and hopefully we're going to change it on the weekend."

Ratten said Carlton's narrow losses to Geelong and West Coast before last week's bye showed the Blues could match it with the top sides.

The Blues' coach said defender Jeremy Laidler was distraught at his latest injury setback at VFL level and would have season-ending knee surgery on Tuesday.

While Ratten declined to give specific details of Waite's back injury or Chris Judd's fitness, he did say skipper Judd was feeling refreshed following the bye.

Judd had just 12 disposals against the Eagles, and the dual Brownlow Medallist is reportedly nursing a back complaint.

"(The bye) will do him the world of good," Ratten said.

"He's trained really well. Not just him but a few others.

"Shaun Hampson (who didn't play against West Coast because of a sore back) seems to be jumping out of his skin."

Ratten says it's hard to argue with club great Alex Jesaulenko's criticism that the Blues have gone backwards in 2012, given they had nine-and-a-half wins on the board from their first 12 games last year.

Jesaulenko said on Monday the Blues wouldn't be top-four material until they had a big power forward like Stephen Kernahan in the side.

"If we could get our power forwards out there it would be great too," Ratten said in response to Jesaulenko's comments.

"Jarrad has had another interrupted year through injury.

"Most of our injuries have been to our talls."

 - Eurosport
 
 
 
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