It’s been a busy couple of weeks in the AFL for Carlton, with the injuries now starting to mount up. Another poor start to the campaign has seen the Blues slip down the ladder, and they’ll be hoping that their recent victory over the Bulldogs can help kickstart their campaign.
The club was also dealt a significant blow at the beginning of May, with the news that both Nic Newman and Kade Simpson will be forced to spend time on the sidelines. Luckily, they have a ready-made replacement in the shape of draftee Liam Stocker, who will be desperate to take his opportunity, and he should be able to make an instant impression in the Old Dark Navy Blue.

Stocker arrived with a terrific reputation, and has whetted the appetite of many Carlton fans with his recent performance in the VFL against Geelong. Although it was a hard-fought contest, Stocker managed to notch 16 disposals, and seven rebound 50s. The first-year player’s performance attracted sparkling reviews from supporters, and his confidence shone through. He’s been working on his defensive work ahead of his AFL debut, and he could be the perfect replacement for the stricken duo.

Both Newman and Simpson are expected to be out of the side for at least three weeks, and this should be enough time for Stocker to establish himself and get a decent run of games under his belt. Newman jarred his knee during the club’s narrow loss to the Hawks, going down heavily in the fourth quarter, whilst Kade Simpson has been struggling with an ongoing hamstring issue.

The first-year player is highly rated, and was considered to be the sixth-best player at this year’s AFL draft. The Blues swapped first-round picks with Adelaide to ensure they were able to acquire the services of the promising player. It was a trade that made headlines throughout Australia, with many fans describing it as “risky”. Carlton will be hoping that the Crows miss out on the finals in order for the swap to pay off.

There will be plenty of responsibility on Stocker’s young shoulders when he takes to field for the first time. Charlie Curnow and Will Setterfield are also likely to feature over the coming weeks as Brendan Bolton shuffles his pack in a bid to strike the perfect balance. His side have been disappointing so far in 2019, winning just one of opening six games. As a result, they are $19.00 outsiders in the latest Aussie Rules betting to finish in the top eight this season.

The Old Dark Navy Blue’s only victory so far arrived in round 5 at the Marvel Stadium, as they edged past the Western Bulldogs. Harry McKay was the star of the show notching four goals, and twenty disposals on April 21st. Carlton picked up the wooden spoon in 2018, finishing with just eight points to their name, and they’ll be keen to avoid a repeat of that embarrassing campaign. It’s been a barren few years for Blues fans, and they will be hoping that the club’s ambitious gamble in the draft will pay off in the long-term.
Liam Stocker may have spent much of his junior career playing in midfield, but has since been converted to half-back. He’s extremely versatile, and should be a huge asset in 2019. The dual-sided youngster has impressed since joining Carlton, and he looks a terrific prospect, who should go on to become a future AFL star.