Carlton skipper Patrick Cripps is reportedly battling a mystery injury that is causing him to play through discomfort.
Veteran AFL journalist Sam Edmund revealed that the three-time best and fairest winner has required weekly injections in order to play.
Big news from Sam Edmund:
Patty Cripps is playing hurt. He's plagued at the moment by an injury that requires weekly injections to get him through I'm told.
If it were December or January - he would be sidelined for 4-6 weeks but he is pushing through.
— Time On (@TimeOnSEN) March 29, 2021
"I know people are sick to death of an alibi when it comes to Patrick Cripps, but the fact of the matter is he's been plagued by an injury that requires weekly injections to get him to the start line," Edmund told SEN's Time On.
"I've been told by club sources that if this was a pre-season time of the year, December or January, then Paddy Cripps would be put on ice for four to six weeks.
"This mystery injury has got him playing hurt. I am told that there is no risk of the injury getting worse, so he's just got to put up with it."
The Blues confirmed in a statement that Cripps "had some soreness" in the first couple of rounds but he is expected to line-up for Sunday's clash against Fremantle.
“Patrick’s had some soreness in the first couple of rounds. It’s not uncommon for players to play with soreness,” Blues Director of High Performance Andrew Russell told carltonfc.com.au.
“He’s been able to train more this week than he has in the last couple of weeks.
“We’re very confident that after the 10-day break, we’re going to see a really good Patrick Cripps on Sunday versus Fremantle.”
The Carlton captain has been under the spotlight as the club start the year 0-2 for the ninth consecutive season while aiming for their first finals appearance since 2013.
Cripps, who underwent a shoulder reconstruction over summer, becomes a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.
The 26-year-old is yet to re-sign with the Blues despite indicating that he would like to remain at Ikon Park.