MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 07: Patrick Cripps of the Blues runs with the ball during the round seven AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Carlton Blues at Melbourne Cricket Ground on May 7, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Carlton midfielder Patrick Cripps is pushing his case to be available for selection for the first match of the season against Richmond after recovering well from a serious back injury.

Cripps suffered a stress reaction in November that has kept his workload low over the summer period, but the Blues are hopeful he will recover in time for the clash against the Tigers on March 23.

Blues football manager Andrew McKay shares the same air of confidence as Cripps, with McKay telling the club website he should be fit to face Richmond in just over two months’ time.

“Patrick Cripps has been travelling really well actually, he’s back running on the grass, which is fantastic,” McKay said.

“He is still in line for round one, so we are very confident he will get to the line and play some good footy [against the Tigers]”.

In the injury room alongside Cripps currently sit ruckman Andrew Phillips and rookie-listed forward Andrew Gallucci, with Phillips also pushing for Round 1 selection, while Gallucci will hit the track in March following shoulder surgery.

Ciaran Byrne, the Irish defender who ruptured his ACL in July last year, is still looking at a year on the recovery table, with McKay anticipating Byrne’s return to come midway through the year.

“Obviously he (Byrne) still has a long way to go,” McKay said.

“He has a lot of rehab to do but he is working really hard and we will see him (in action) before the end of the year, in early July we think.”