MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Sam Walsh of the Blues looks dejected after a loss during the 2021 AFL Round 02 match between the Carlton Blues and the Collingwood Magpies at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 25, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Carlton star Sam Walsh is continuing to battle a back injury that saw his 2022 season curtailed.

Walsh missed his side's Round 23 clash with Collingwood due to the ailment, with his 20-game campaign bookended by injury.

The All-Australian midfielder was a late out for Carlton's final game of the season, a match where the Blues required a victory to clinch a top-eight spot.

The Magpies would secure a one-point win over their Victorian rivals to spell an end to their year, forcing Michael Voss' side back to the drawing board.

As the Blues prepare for their second season under Voss, continuing the early stages of their pre-season training, Walsh remains sidelined from skill drills and full training at Princes Park as he manages the back issue.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Sam Walsh of the Blues in action ahead of Shai Bolton of the Tigers during the 2021 AFL Round 01 match between the Richmond Tigers and the Carlton Blues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 18, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Dylan Burns/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Walsh is expected to remain away from the main group until the new year, with his setback unlikely to see him miss the opening round of next season.

Walsh missed his side's season opener against Richmond this year due to an ankle injury sustained at training. He was initially expected to miss the first month of the home and away season due to the syndesmosis setback, however made a return in Round 2.

In the chance Walsh is sidelined early into the new season, the Blues will have new levels of midfield depth from next season after another promising off-season window.

Fremantle midfielder Blake Acres will slot onto a wing for the Blues, while first-round draft selection Oliver Hollands also firms for an outside midfielder role.

Oliver Hollands and Sam Walsh during the 2022 AFL National Draft (Photo by Cameron Grimes / Zero Digital Sports)

The Blues added wingman Jaxon Binns from the Dandenong Stingrays, who will join Hollands in competing for a wing spot against the likes of Lochie O'Brien and Matt Cottrell in 2023.

Ruckman Marc Pittonet (knee), midfielder George Hewett (back)and forward Lachie Fogarty (back) also remain away from Carlton's skills program until the new year.

Onballer Matt Kennedy has rejoined the main program after overcoming post-season foot surgery, while Corey Durdin has also recovered from a shoulder reconstruction.

After missing the entire 2022 season due to an ACL injury, David Cuningham will also be in the selection mix as he looks to play his first AFL game since May 2021.