AFL: Carlton selects Elijah Hollands for Good Friday debut

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Carlton coach Michael Voss says Elijah Hollands was a “top three” player at the Blues over the pre-season as he backs the former Sun to have an immediate impact on Good Friday.

Hollands has been picked to face North Melbourne immediately off the back of his two-week suspension incurred after being charged with drug possession last year prior to his trade to the Blues.

Voss said the 21-year-old had earnt the respect of his teammates and coaches with a brilliant summer as he prepared to join younger brother Ollie in the side against the Kangaroos.

He said Hollands would slot into a half-forward role with bursts through the middle as key defenders Jacob Weitering (calf) and Caleb Marchbank (illness) also return.

“They’re obviously really important players to us, having Elijah also come into the team – what he’s been able to do over pre-season has been particularly impressive, so the fact we’re able to get his first game, which is a huge plus for us as well,” Voss said on Thursday.

“All we’ve asked for him is to come in and put his head down, work really hard and earn the respect through the work rate he brings, the effort he brings.

“He’s shown all those things from the very first day that he walked in through these doors, so he’s been particularly impressive … he would’ve been probably in the top three when it comes to pre-seasons, and his running capacity, he adds into our group.”

Voss said star midfielder Sam Walsh was “stepping through the gears well” as he targeted a return in round 5 or round 6.

“We’ve pretty much stayed present to it. There’s been an extraordinary amount of speculation around him … he’s progressed well, he’s back into his modified training, as we’ve explained he’ll jump into full training next week, and if he’s able to complete his next couple of weeks then he’ll be available to play,” Voss said.

“He’s stepping through the gears pretty well, he’s certainly meeting the requirements we’re asking of him.”

Voss said small forward Jesse Motlop would need to wait longer to return to the senior side after “pulling up tight” from training this week as he comes back from a toe injury.

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