Bulldogs recruit Lewis Young firms as a likely starter for the Blues come Round 1 next year, with the 22-year-old having joined the Blues during the trade period to add depth to the club's defensive stocks.
With one place in the queue now removed as Jones called time on his 161-game career, the reliance on Young, McGovern and luckless key-defender Caleb Marchbank has been amplified.
Carlton coach Michael Voss said the Blues would be open to shifting McGovern down back to reinforce their back third, prompting Brownlow medallist Gerard Healy to suggest 2022 "could be the making" of an All-Australian campaign for McGovern.
The high-flying swingman joined Carlton from Adelaide on a high-priced five-year deal, with Healy believing a greater role in defence could see the Claremont product reach his potential.
“It could be the making of him,” Healy said on 3AW.
“Mitch McGovern could be in the All-Australian squad next year. Liam Jones reinvigorated himself as a defender, so many have done so.
“It’s a big opportunity for him, it’s a big opportunity for anybody aspiring to be a tall defender over at the Blues.
“I think McGovern has still got potential A-grade capacity as a defender. He does a lot of things well. He doesn’t do it often enough in the forward line.”
McGovern was limited to just five appearances this season due to a hamstring injury, playing three rounds in the opening half of the year before making a return for the final two matches of the home and away season.
The 27-year-old has shared his time at Princes Park between defence and attack, booting 37 goals from his 33 matches in the navy blue.