K rock Football

Teague backs McGovern to fire

Carlton forward Mitch McGovern. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

CARLTON coach David Teague has guaranteed Mitch McGovern’s place in the team this week and backed the under-fire key forward to bounce back to form quickly, following fierce external criticism of his performance.

McGovern had just six disposals and was kept goalless in last week’s defeat to St Kilda, prompting a scathing public assessment from club great Mark Maclure.

Teague admitted McGovern was “a bit quiet” against the Saints but confirmed his spot in the Blues’ line-up against Western Bulldogs on Sunday night.

“We didn’t give him a lot of opportunity (last week) but the two weeks before that Mitch was really important against Geelong and Essendon,” Teague said.

“I know people can get seduced by numbers and stats – he’s not a high-possession player but he plays an important role for us.

“He’s continuing to learn and he’s got growth areas, as have every one of our players.”

Teague will continue to weigh up the merits of moving the versatile McGovern into defence as the season rolls on.

But the coach is happy to back in Jacob Weitering and Liam Jones to lead the backline against a Bulldogs attack spearheaded by in-form goal-kicker Josh Bruce.

“(McGovern) reads the game really well so we’re comfortable, if we need to, to put him behind the ball,” Teague said.

“We want to play our best team and pick our best-balanced side and we will do whatever we think is right to get that.

“You’ve always got different options up your sleeve.”

McGovern has kicked six goals in five matches to sit equal-second behind Levi Casboult (eight) in Carlton’s goal-kicking tally this season.

Harry McKay has kicked just one goal in three matches and also went missing last week, managing only four disposals.

Teague urged patience with McKay, who endured an interrupted pre-season and battled soreness when he missed round four.

“Harry’s probably been the one who’s lacked continuity with everything, his training and his playing,” Teague said.

“We’d love to have him out there fit and strong and playing at his best every week but it might just take a little bit of time.

“We believe in him and we think he’s going to be a very good player for our football club.

“While he’s bringing effort then we’ll continue to reward him (and give him the opportunity) to play well.”

(C) AAP 2020