Mitch McGovern Carlton defender

Mitch McGovern could be a defender in 2022. Photo: Carlton FC

New Carlton coach Michael Voss has already had talks with Mitch McGovern about filling the vacancy left by sudden retiree Liam Jones.

After the shock retirement of Liam Jones, attention quickly turned to filling his vacancy in defence. Michael Voss says forward Mitch McGovern was ‘super keen’ to get first crack at the position.

Speaking on Jones’ decision to not get vaccinated and thus force himself into an early retirement, new Carlton coach Michael Voss admitted the club was ‘disappointed’ but is quickly moving on.

“We were disappointed that he wasn’t able to join us but at the same time we respect the decision he’s come to,” he told media at Ikon Park on Monday.

“It was always going to come down to individual choice. There are some clear parameters that we have to operate under though, and those guidelines have been given to us by the AFL and we have to follow those.

“I think importantly the big thing for us is not so much who’s not here, it’s who is here and that’s what we keep our focus on from this point on.”

He admitted that he tried to change the veteran defender’s decision, but it was his choice and it was time to respect that.

“Of course you’re going to try to do that, but it comes down to – largely – choice.

“The conversations that we’ve had with him as you can appreciate are quite private and his reasons for that are also quite private and we’re prepared to respect that.

“He’s a respected member of this team, the boys love playing with him, he’ll always be welcome here at the right time to come back to the Carlton Football Club, so we have no problem with that.”

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A replacement for Jones might not have been forthcoming in 2021, but through the trade period and health the Blues will have some options to trial over the pre-season.

The Blues brought Lewis Young into the club from Grand Finalists the Western Bulldogs. He had been played in the ruck through parts of 2021 but has shown the most promise as a defender.

Voss said he had already been in talks with McGovern to train as a defender over the pre-season and try solidify a spot in the best 22 alongside Jacob Weitering in the backline.

“Obviously Lewis [Young] coming in is one of the names straight away,” Voss started.

“We’re certainly happy to explore Mitch McGovern going back, so I’ve had those conversations with him already and he’s been super keen to maybe take on a challenge like that.

“Then there’s the guys who we probably haven’t seen a lot of in recent times. Obviously ‘Marchy’s’ just starting to get himself going, so we’ll see him up and going probably post-Christmas.

“There’re a few names there to use, but obviously we’ve got to get them skilled up, and we’ve got to get them skilled up in those areas.”

Carlton could also make use of the AFL Draft on Wednesday and Thursday to add key position depth.

Mature-agers Leek Alleer and Charlie Dean will be in considerations for its Pick 25, while WA’s Rhett Bazzo and WAFL star Blake Schlensog could be options in the latter stages.

The Blues had a brilliant turnout for their first day of pre-season training at Ikon Park, with a host of experienced Baggers back at the club despite not needing to report to training until the 6th of December.

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