Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan is wary of a Blues’ backlash at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, believing Carlton have been harshly judged for their early-season form.
The teams have the same record of two wins and three losses entering their weekend battle, but it’s the Blues who have been savaged this week.
Carlton great Mark Maclure slammed his former club on AFL 360, saying: “The lack of competitiveness from some of the players in that team is atrocious.
“And the biggest thing for me is it’s about the players actually having some respect for each other and for themselves. I don’t see it. I don’t see them working together. I don’t see it.
“When you watch the good sides, the numbers around the ball gives you a really good indication who’s in the game and who’s not in the game. And guess what? The Blues aren’t.”
However, Fagan said the Blues were copping criticism “somewhat unfairly”.
“I don’t make of Carlton what everyone else is making of them this week, that’s for sure,” Fagan said.
“They were within eight points of Richmond at three-quarter time, within nine points of Collingwood at three-quarter time, had a terrific win against Fremantle, which I watched live, and came up here and beat Gold Coast at Metricon.
“They copped some criticism about their performance last week. They had more shots at goal than Port Adelaide.
“They’re 2-3, we’re 2-3 – they’re going pretty well. We’ve got a lot of respect for them and how they’re going about things, and we expect the game on the weekend to be a really tough game.
“I think Carlton’s going a little bit better that what some of the experts this week have been pointing out about them.”
The Lions produced the best display of the season in beating Essendon by 57 points in wet conditions at the Gabba last Saturday night.
“Last week was our most solid performance for the year, so that should give the boys some confidence going forward,” Fagan said.
“I thought in lots of ways we played a pretty dry-weather brand in the wet.
“If we can move the ball like that again, I’ll be happy with that.”
In good news for the Lions, big man Oscar McInerney has recovered from an ankle injury he suffered against the Bombers.
But Jarrod Berry may be ruled out with an adductor injury.