Prized Carlton draftee Jesse Motlop to make his AFL debut as Blues go smaller in attack without Harry McKay

Exciting Carlton forward Jesse Motlop will make his AFL debut against the Giants on Sunday as part of the Blues’ plan for life without Coleman medallist Harry McKay.

McKay’s knee injury, which is expected to sideline him for the next six weeks, further decimates the club’s tall stocks, leaving in-form partner-in-crime Charlie Curnow with a massive job in his absence.

George Hewett (corked calf) needs only to negotiate training on Friday to make a timely return to face Greater Western Sydney’s on-ball brigade after a fortnight out.

Marc Pittonet (knee), Mitch McGovern (hamstring), Lewis Young (Covid protocols) and Oscar McDonald (back) are unavailable, with coach Michael Voss conceding Carlton had little option but to go smaller in attack.

But Voss said they were wary not to make wholesale changes to the game plan in such a short period.

“Bits and pieces (will be different) but you’ve got to be really careful, because you just can’t possibly rebrand yourself within seven days,” he said.

“We feel like we’ve got a style that will stand up with some further constraints thrown at us and that’s certainly one of those constraints.

“There’s not as much tall timber up front but what we do have is, when we get the ball on the deck, we can build the pressure and hopefully we can bring that on the weekend.”

There was plenty of pre-season hype about Motlop, the No.27 pick in last year’s draft and son of 130-gamer Daniel, and Voss said he was tempted to unleash him even sooner.

The 176cm goalsneak has quickly endeared himself at Ikon Park with his vibrant personality, while impressing at VFL level with averages of 16 disposals, five score involvements and almost four tackles.

Camera IconCarlton draftee Jesse Motlop, celebrating his first senior WAFL goal last year, is in for his AFL debut. Credit: Supplied

“He’s a really popular player for us. Watching him in the VFL, it’s been really enticing to play him even a little bit earlier,” Voss said.

“But he just adds to that mosquito fleet, if you want to call it that, down in the front half and he’s going to add real value to us in our team.

“ ‘Deadly’ he calls himself. But he’s got a lot of character. He’s got around the boys really well and they love him, so he’s going to bring plenty of energy for us on the weekend.”

The Blues are 6-2 for the first time since 1996 and have ended a decade-long drought outside the top four, and Voss said he did not want to “take away the excitement that Carlton supporters will have”.

“We’ll embrace that as much as possible,” he said.

“What we can’t do is take our focus off what’s got us there in the first place. What I am seeing is that the boys are really believing in the way that we’re playing and you can see their confidence growing by the week.

“Different challenges will get thrown at us – we’ve got another one this weekend. We haven’t won interstate this year … so there’s a little challenge.

“We’ve got some other things (Giants coach Leon Cameron’s resignation) that are going on around the game. That’s a challenge. And despite all that, we’ve got to go out there and play the way we want to play.”

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Krzysztof Stanowicz

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