Kreuzer to make AFL debut for Carlton - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kreuzer to make AFL debut for Carlton

By John Salvado 02/04/2008 04:53:01 PM Comments (0)

Matthew Kreuzer will make his AFL debut in a match befitting the hype surrounding a No.1 draft pick.

Carlton coach Brett Ratten confirmed that the 18-year-old ruck-forward had recovered from a hip complaint and would come straight into the Blues' lineup for Saturday night's clash with traditional rival Essendon.

The Blues will equal their worst-ever losing streak of 14 matches if they go down to the Bombers at the MCG.

"He could have nearly played last week (against St Kilda), but it's a pretty big ask to ask a kid to come in for his first game of football and maybe not be 100 per cent right," said Ratten of Kreuzer, who was selected at No.1 in last year's national draft.

"So (we waited a week) to make sure that he's got the best platform to kick off his AFL career - and what a game to do it, against Essendon at the `G on Saturday night."

"Your first is your first game, you're pretty nervous as a kid and you want to touch the footy," added Ratten.

"It doesn't matter where you play your first game, you always remember it and he's pretty lucky that he'll get it against Essendon."

Essendon will make at least two enforced changes for the match, with speedsters Courtenay Dempsey (hamstring) and Nathan Lovett-Murray (groin) both unavailable after being injured in last weekend's big loss to Geelong.

One player in line for a senior call-up is Andrew Welsh, who kicked five goals in a half for the Bombers' VFL affiliate Bendigo last weekend.

After an impressive pre-season campaign and a big round-one win over North Melbourne, the Bombers were dealt a harsh reality check last weekend when Geelong drubbed them by 99 points.

But new coach Matthew Knights said he would continue to back his young side, rather than play defensively.

"We're not going to be shrinking violets no matter who we play," he said.

"That's not in anyone's best interests.

"We're going to promote our young players to keep developing, to keep getting better.

"What we found out last week (was) playing against a very good side with big bodies who are really on the top of their game."

An interesting sub-plot in Saturday night's clash will be the performances of high-profile spearheads Brendan Fevola and Matthew Lloyd.

Fevola has started well and faded in the Blues' opening losses to Richmond and St Kilda.

Lloyd was impressive with five majors in Essendon's first-up win over North Melbourne before being held goalless last Sunday for the first time in three years.

"He had a very good opponent last week (Geelong fullback Matthew Scarlett) and I thought our forward entries and our work in the forward line as a whole group wasn't great and Matthew was just one person in eight or 10 guys who played in the forward line," said Knights.

"Knowing Matthew, I'm sure he will bounce back this week."

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