Why Brownlow medallist is still bullish on the Blues despite Williams’ injury

Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy isn’t expecting Zac Williams’ ACL injury to significantly impact Carlton’s hopes in 2023.

While Williams is a best 22 player and was reportedly enjoying a strong pre-season, Healy believes the Blues have several “high-end options” that can take his place in the line-up after he went down injured las week.

For those that believe Carlton’s hopes have gone down with the dashing defender, Healy says their reaction has been “overdone”.

“Much has been made of the impact to the Blues’ chances this year such is the injury to Zac Williams,” Healy said on SEN Sportsday.

“But the reaction has been overdone by so many, it’s a blow of course and it does seem a little worse given the continued absence of young superstar Sam Walsh, but it’s by no means terminal.

“The Blues have a number of high-end options for the half back role including Saad, Newman and Docherty with Markov set to also join the club as a backup.”

Another player that was already on the Blues’ injury list is star midfielder Sam Walsh, who had surgery on a bulging disk in his back.

While Walsh won’t be available for the start of the season, Healy expects him to be firing when the whips are cracking as the Blues get back several big names who were injured late last year.

“Walsh is an unknown, it’s a worry but is suggested he’ll be back in the first half of the season – even as early as Round 5 or 6,” Healy said.

“You can focus on the injury to one or two players or you can focus on the positive, most of the squad is in good health.

“The backline that was decimated last year minus Caleb Marchbank is ready to go.

“Jack Martin and Marc Pittonet are not far away, and importantly midfielder George Hewett is ready to fire.

“He was such an important player last season when fit and they were a much lesser side when his injury finally took toll, restricting him to just 15 games.”

Having last played finals in 2013, Healy doesn’t expect that drought to continue this season, even given Williams’ unavaliabilty.

“It’s been nine long years without a finals appearance for Carlton,” Healy said.

“But at this stage, even with the Williams injury, there’s no reason to think there’ll be a tenth.

“For me the glass is very much half full.”

Carlton opens their 2023 season with a traditional Round 1 clash against Richmond at the MCG on March 16.