AFL: Carlton coach Brendon Bolton is expected to have his three star midfielders at his disposal when the Blues take on Richmond in the season-opener at the MCG tonight.
Skipper Marc Murphy, Bryce Gibbs and Patrick Cripps were considered certain starters, making it one of the few times all have lined up together.
Cripps debuted in late 2014 and since then the trio has only run out in the same match 19 times. Murphy suffered a season-ending ankle injury in round last year while Gibbs missed most of the 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle.
Due to his 195cm frame, Cripps has developed into the dominant clearance player in the league during his 44-game career, and won the Blues best and fairest in 2016.
Bolton will be relieved to have them with the Tigers having added genuine grunt in the midfield with Dion Prestia (Gold Coast) and Josh Caddy (Geelong) joining Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin. "They've now added Caddy and Prestia, so they've got more midfield depth but we've got some guys that hold their own in there,” Bolton said.
"Cripps, Murphy, Gibbs ... they haven't been together for a while, so it's going to be a good battle in there.”
Murphy is coming off his first uninterrupted pre-season in some years for the Blues.
"He'll lead by example and when he's got the ball in his hands, we know he uses it well,” Bolton said.
"With a full pre-season with no interruptions - touch wood - and no more injuries, I think we'll see the best of Marc Murphy this year.”