Carlton have been dealt a hammer blow with star defender Jacob Weitering in doubt for the start of the AFL season.
Weitering suffered a serious calf injury at the Blues’ main training session on Friday.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Jacob Weitering suffers serious injury.
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The club was reluctant to put a timeline on his return to training, but it’s been reported he could be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
The Blues begin the season against Brisbane in the opening round on March 8, which would be exactly eight weeks after the injury.
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“Jacob Weitering is expected to be sidelined for an extended period with a calf injury,” the club said in a statement.
“The injury occurred during Friday’s main training session, with scans confirming a high-grade calf strain.
“The injury will be reviewed in the coming weeks to determine return to play timelines.”
Weitering suffered the injury at training. Credit: Getty Images
Weitering is one of Carlton’s most important players.
The 26-year-old is fresh off winning his second club best and fairest award after a standout season that saw the surging Blues reach the preliminary final.
He has also been vice-captain since 2022.
The injury could open the door for Caleb Marchbank to take on a bigger role at the start of the season.
Marchbank has managed just 53 senior games in seven seasons with Carlton since his switch from GWS.
Serious knee and neck injuries, among other setbacks, took a toll as Marchbank leant on Charlie Curnow and Sam Docherty during testing times together in the Blues’ rehabilitation group.
All he wants now is continuity and a fair chance to make a good fist of his career, having earned a one-year contract extension for 2024.
Staying on track to complete a full summer training program is the first step.
“It gives me an opportunity to work on my craft and prepare my body to withstand a full season, hopefully,” Marchbank said last month.
“I’m excited about that because I’ve come off a limited base whenever I’ve returned to play.
“But hopefully I’ve got that full pre-season behind me so I’ll be able to play all 22 games and crack in next year.”
Marchbank recovered from a calf injury and played the last eight games of Carlton’s barnstorming run to a preliminary final last season, which was “massive” for his confidence.
Now the stars could be aligning, with Marchbank injury-free and the premiership window wide open for the Blues and their long-suffering fans as they enter a third season under Michael Voss.
“We took massive strides and we grew as a group last season, and we found a level where we need to be,” Marchbank said.
“To put ourselves in that (preliminary final) was pleasing and obviously we didn’t get the result that we wanted to, but we now have the foundation to allow us to succeed and keep moving forward.
“The coaching group has given us stability over the last two seasons and clarity in our roles with what we need to do in order to put ourselves in a position to go again.”
– With AAP