Blues back De Koning for AFL ruck role

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Carlton coach Michael Voss has backed inexperienced tall Tom De Koning to thrive leading the AFL club's ruck division in the absence of Marc Pittonet.

No.1 ruckman Pittonet has been ruled out for up to three months with a knee injury suffered during last week's defeat to Fremantle.

It leaves De Koning facing a crucial battle with North Melbourne veteran Todd Goldstein on Saturday night as the Blues seek a win that would put their finals bid back on track.

But Voss is confident De Koning can rise to the challenge, with the 203cm prospect growing into the role over the last 12 months.

"The confidence is not built off (the fact that) it's convenient, it's built off a body of work that we've seen over a period of time," Voss said.

"I feel like with the pre-season that Tom's had and what he's been able to do, he's completely ready for this moment.

"He's up against a really strong ruckman (Goldstein) and we ask for him to compete as hard as he possibly can.

"Then it's up to the mids to get to work and make sure that they own the ground."

Carlton's midfield took a hit when George Hewett was ruled out of the Kangaroos clash with a calf injury.

But that loss has been offset by the return of Matthew Kennedy, who missed round six through soreness.

Fellow inside midfielder Jack Carroll has been named to debut after impressing over summer and overcoming minor injury concerns.

"He's tough, he's hard and I know he'll do really well," Voss said.

"He works extremely hard and that always puts you in a really good starting point.

"He's worked really close with our mids right throughout pre-season and he's certainly mixed it with some of the bigger boys in there.

"He won't shirk a contest this young man. I think the Carlton faithful will be pretty happy watching his career unfold."

Carlton have managed just one win in their last seven meetings with North Melbourne but will start warm favourites to reverse the trend.

The Kangaroos have lost key talls Ben McKay (suspension) and Tristan Xerri (foot), with off-season recruit Callum Coleman-Jones and Jaidyn Stephenson named to return.

Meanwhile, Carlton defender Mitch McGovern will remain sidelined indefinitely after re-injuring his troublesome hamstring.

Scans on Friday confirmed the latest setback for the unlucky 27-year-old, who has managed just 19 of a possible 45 senior games since the start of 2020.

The Blues will know the full extent of the injury once McGovern undergoes further assessment next week.

"It's a bit of a loss," Voss said.

"We'd like some more positive news and we were hoping to get him up and going for next week but we've lost him for a little while."

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