AFL: Carlton coach Brendon Bolton has urged Dale Thomas to play with the "freedom" he showed in the VFL after he was recalled to face his old side for Saturday's clash against Collingwood at the MCG.
Thomas was best afield for the Northern Blues last week and has earned a swift return to the AFL after Carlton was forced to make two changes through injury.
The former Magpie comes into the Blues line-up alongside Sam Kerridge for Jack Silvagni (shoulder) and Zac Fisher (corked hamstring).
Bolton said Thomas had earned his recall with his performance in the VFL.
"The thing about our team obviously we had a few injuries with a couple of youngsters this week and our match committee makes sure it holds its integrity of picking people on form," Bolton said.
"Dale played a really good game at VFL level and comes in in form. So we just want him to make sure that he plays with the freedom that he played with in the VFL."
Bolton said picking Thomas to face his old team had not been a factor in his return but expected him to be determined to make an impact against the Magpies.
"That's not a consideration with selection. Like I said, integrity around our match committee has been based on form and it always has been," Bolton said.
"I'm sure he'll be determined to play well against his old team."
Bolton praised the way Thomas had handled his time out of the senior team.
"(He's been an) absolute professional. You can't question him actually. If you were sitting in any of our meetings over the last fortnight, in spite of some inconsistencies in his own game, you wouldn't have known," Bolton said.
"He kept investing with our young guys and contributing in meetings, so he has been fantastic around our footy club and has applied himself the right way last week."
Bolton hoped the injuries to Silvagni and Fisher would keep the pair out for just the one game but was not certain of the time frame for their return.
He said his young players were ready for the big occasion against the Magpies, who will be celebrating their 125th anniversary.
"I think they are aware of the rivalry, they have only got to walk around and people talk about the rivalry," Bolton said.
"It's the Peter Mac Cup, which is an important occasion. On top of that 125 years (for Collingwood). They are looking forward to a fierce contest and I'm sure we'll get that from Collingwood."
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