Ratten hopes Walker is Blues' 'X-factor' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ratten hopes Walker is Blues' 'X-factor'

15/07/2009 04:39:56 PM Comments (0)

Carlton utility Andrew Walker could be the X-factor the Blues need as they try to secure a first AFL finals appearance since 2001.

Walker will resume in the VFL this week after needing shoulder surgery in April.

He might be back in the seniors as early as next week.

Coach Brett Ratten thinks Walker might be able to provide some of the spark missing since Jarrad Waite was sidelined for the rest of the season with a knee reconstruction.

"Fitness-wise, it's not a worry for us, he's probably nearly the fittest in the club - even fitter than Juddy," Ratten said.

"It's just more that contact on that shoulder, to make sure he gets through and gets a bit of confidence from it.

"He could be one week, if he impresses straight-up, he might be in the following week.

"I'd love to get him back in, his energy and running ability - maybe that X-factor we lost with Jarrad, we might get back with Andrew Walker."

The 23-year-old was Carlton's top draft pick at No.2 in 2003 and has managed 81 senior games, but he has suffered from a series of shoulder problems.

Ratten said this latest surgery had strengthened Walker's right shoulder and left the player feeling more comfortable on the field.

"This time, he's had a different operation and when he gets knocked, the whole body moves ... it (the shoulder) is a bit more tied down," Ratten said.

"It's a lot tighter for him, so it will take Mac truck to probably move it.

"He's a lot more confident in his ball handling and putting his arm up ... you'll see (him) a bit bouncier."

The Blues are seventh and have a game plus percentage on ninth-placed Port Adelaide.

On Saturday they play 11th-placed Sydney at Etihad Stadium, a side they have not beaten since 2000.

Earlier this year, Ratten spoke several times about changing these types of losing streaks.

But now he is focussed on improving his team, rather than changing bad records.

"We've focussed on it a fair bit when we've played those teams and maybe it's just a chance this week to focus on what we have to do - the way we want to play and how we can actually execute our game plan the best we can," he said.

"We haven't even talked about it, so don't write about it please."

Experienced midfielders Heath Scotland and Nick Stevens are again no certainties to return to the side.

They were dropped after the round-13 disaster against Essendon and the Blues have won their two games since.

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