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Carlton defender Zac Williams on track for early return

Jackson Clark -

Injury prone Carlton defender Zac Williams has made another positive step towards his return from injury after showing strong signs during last Friday's match simulation training session.

The 29-year-old has not appeared at AFL level since the final round of the 2022 season after battling multiple serious injuries over the past two seasons.

Williams missed the Blues 2023 campaign after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on the final day of a training camp in Queensland in February last year.

But the Wiradjuri man is back to full training and is expected to be available for the Blues' opening round clash against Brisbane on March 8.

Williams has played 136 AFL games – 113 of those with his former club Greater Western Sydney.

He arrived at Carlton via free agency on a lucrative six-year deal at the end of the 2020 season but has struggled with continuity due to a string of injuries.

After a serviceable 2021 season in his new colours, Williams pushed into the midfield and produced excellent football in 2022, including a 36-disposal performance against the Gold Coast Suns in Round 4.

Zac Williams is expected to be available for the beginning of the 2024 season. (Image: Getty Images)

He will be a welcome return for a Blues team who were just one win away from a grand final berth last year.

Carlton coach Michael Voss told media in late November that he expected Williams to be available for Round 1.

"He's progressing as expected," Voss told media at a press conference.

"If we use the timeline of his injury as a bit of a guide, he should be back to full fitness in the first week of February."

Blues assistant coach Tim Clarke told the Herald Sun that Williams would be like a 'new recruit' for the Blues in 2024.

"Zac has been going really well with his rehab, he has put a lot of work in and our high-performance guys have been working really closely with Zac," Clarke said.

"He is really excited. He is a competitor. He just wants to get out there and train with the boys. He helps educate the younger boys. We can't wait to have him back out there next year."

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