Carlton coach dismisses 'obsessive' finals expectations
Carlton coach Michael Voss has dismissed the "obsession" around his side's finals chances, saying it is too early in the season to be making those calls.
There were high hopes for the Blues this season after the side missed finals on percentage last year.
Carlton started the 2023 season with an unbeaten run of four matches but currently sit eighth following a 26-point defeat to the Brisbane Lions.
It was their third loss in four games, casting doubt over whether the Blues can make it into the top eight - something they haven't done since 2013.
"It seems to be an obsession to define a season by round eight," a defiant Voss said on Friday.
"I'm somewhat confused by the whole conversation because the agenda of what we wanted to go about our business was set by the final siren at the end of last year."
Voss' defence comes after midfielder Adam Cerra on Tuesday conceded the Blues' season won't be a failure if they didn't make the finals.
"I don't think we should be confused about what our expectations are," Voss said.
"We don't just want to participate in finals. We want to have a say. We want to have an impact.
"It's pretty clear what we're trying to achieve. It's just that by thinking into the future, it doesn't help us now."
Voss will recall utility Matthew Cottrell and forward Matt Owies to the Blues' 22 for Saturday night's clash with the Western Bulldogs after impressive performances in the VFL.
Blues captain Patrick Cripps will also be looking to atone for a rare quiet outing against the Lions when he comes up against opposing skipper Marcus Bontempelli.
Despite the Blues' issues, their opponents aren't expecting an easy four points.
Coach Luke Beveridge drew similarities between the under-fire Blues' position and how his own charges responded against Brisbane in round three.
"They're probably in a similar position as what we were after round two where there's some commentary around how you're going and how you're not going and maybe the frailties in your game, which were pointed out in the public domain with us," he said.
"As I said at the time, there's no rebuttals - you've just got to deal with it and focus on the things that are going to really help you gain some momentum.
"We've been pretty productive over the last month and a half and they're more than capable - we know that.
"So we're on edge about how they're going to maybe react to some of the criticism and what that means for them as far as a spike in anything."
The Bulldogs were in good spirits and cut a relaxed vibe at Friday's training, with young gun Artie Jones dancing his way through their warm-up.
Beveridge believes former Blue Liam Jones could be a great asset against his old side on Saturday.
"Even Jonesy was talking about their defensive line in our team meeting today, so he can help with the other end of the ground too."
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (adductor) is "ready to go" after getting through main training "with flying colours".