AAP AFL

A new AFL chapter starts for Blues’ McKay

By AAP Newswire

The next chapter of the Harry McKay story opens on Friday night when Carlton seek a badly needed AFL win over St Kilda.

After growing calls for the Blues to play the top-10 draft pick, McKay will have his first senior game since round 10 this season.

McKay's return comes as Carlton try to rally from last week's poor loss to Brisbane, a result which put them two games clear on the bottom of the ladder.

Well aware of the talk around the key forward and why he kept being left out of the AFL team, coach Brendon Bolton spent several minutes on Thursday detailing McKay's challenges since joining Carlton.

"I will give you the story of Harry McKay," Bolton said.

McKay was already a young recruit when the Blues recruited him at pick No.10 in the 2015 draft - Bolton's first as an AFL senior coach.

Then for two years he had a back injury, followed by a turf toe injury.

"His first two years are practically a wipe-out in terms of training (and) he was then hampered into this pre-season," Bolton said.

"He then built up some consistency and got some AFL games.

"He went out of the team and since then ... he got quite ill with the 'flu.

"Only in the last three weeks or so has he got good continuity back."

Andrew Phillips will miss the rest of the season with a hamstring tendon injury, opening the door for McKay.

Bolton said there is nothing sinister about McKay's prolonged absence.

"That (drafted) crew that started with me, I'm really keen to see do well and I really hope he does," Bolton said.

"No one, including me, wants Harry to not be a great AFL player."

The dream for Carlton is that McKay can combine with young gun Charlie Curnow and become a potent key forward double act.

Bolton compared McKay to Brisbane's Eric Hipwood, who destroyed the Blues last week with six goals.

"He's got some similarities in that he can twist and turn and he's mobile," Bolton said.

Carlton also lost Jacob Weitering to a calf injury, but Kade Simpson will return after he was a late withdrawal from the Lions game with calf tightness.

Caleb Marchbank suffered an elevated heart rate during the Brisbane game, but he has medical clearance to keep playing after undergoing tests.

The bad Lions loss meant renewed scrutiny this week on Bolton and the Blues.

When asked if this was his toughest time in coaching, Bolton replied: "No doubt".

But he is also pleased that the Blues are sticking together.

"I feel really determined, really focused," he said.

"If anything, this week just makes our club bound and tighter."