Tough times set up Carlton's AFL finals campaign

Michael Voss believes the harsh lessons served up during a rollercoaster season have prepared Carlton for their first AFL finals appearance in a decade.

The Blues endured a rough start to Voss's second year at the helm and looked out of contention with a 4-1-8 record halfway through the bye rounds.

A fierce blowtorch was turned on the coach and his players, who were jeered off the ground by long-suffering fans after several poor performances.

But a stunning nine-match winning streak, which was ended by GWS in round 24 when Voss rested some key players, propelled the Blues into September.

They are warm favourites to win Friday night's elimination final against Sydney, expecting the bulk of support from a crowd tipped to reach 90,000 at the MCG.

"The journey we've been on has been spoken about a fair bit and those moments have been pulled apart and put back together," Voss told reporters on Thursday.

"It's part of your evolution as a team, how you overcome and adapt and learn from the experiences that you've had.

"Some of those have been quite harsh moments where those losses have hurt a lot.

"You learn as much from those as the moments at the back end of this year where we've been able to turn that around and provide a consistency and a really high level in the way that we play.

"We'll tap into both of those but it won't necessarily help us when we walk out there."

Despite forecast rain and hail being likely to make life difficult for the talls, Marc Pittonet will return to partner Tom De Koning in a two-pronged Blues ruck division against Sydney pair Tom Hickey and Hayden McLean.

The important selection call comes after Voss experimented with key forward Harry McKay as a back-up to De Koning in round 24.

McKay will spend more time in attack alongside back-to-back Coleman medallist Charlie Curnow, with Pittonet set to add a physical presence around the ball in predicted tough conditions.

"We feel like that's been a real strength of ours throughout this year," Voss said of his ruck pairing.

"They bounce off each other really well and they're obviously pretty good at their own individual roles, but we feel like we lean into our strengths there."

Lewis Melican has been recalled to bolster the Swans' tall defensive stocks, while explosive forward Tom Papley (hamstring) and Justin McInerney (calf) have also overcome injury concerns.

Along with Pittonet, Carlton have been boosted by the return of captain Patrick Cripps and Sam Docherty after the experienced pair missed round 24 with soreness.

Wingman Blake Acres has proved his fitness after a shoulder injury.

Friday night will be Carlton's first finals appearance since 2013 and Voss noted the event is in part a celebration for the Blues' supporters.

"We want all that noise, we want that real positive energy and we want to put smiles on faces," Voss said.

"To do that, we've got to get out and get our jobs done."

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