CARLTON says former first-round pick Liam Stocker must prove himself as a defender before he is brought back into the side for what would be his first AFL appearance in nearly two years.
The club has not ruled out including Stocker for its crucial Saturday clash with Brisbane at Marvel Stadium, after the 21-year-old produced an impressive 38-disposal performance in the VFL last weekend.
Moved to half-back against Southport, Stocker also had 13 marks and kicked a nice goal to put himself firmly in contention for a return to action having not played at senior level since June 2019.
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David Cuningham had 28 disposals in last weekend's VFL defeat to also put his hand up for selection, while a four-goal haul to Matt Owies and a 10-tackle effort from Will Setterfield is expected to push both back into the senior frame.
However, Blues coach David Teague says any return for Stocker would have to be through the backline, with the side considering a host of changes as it looks to reverse a disappointing 2-3 start to the year against the Lions.
"(Stocker) will come into the mix," Teague said.
"It's an interesting one. We've thrown him back there for one week, so is he ready now? We'll assess it.
"He's been playing in the midfield, but he played half-back last week. He's definitely put his hand up. He'll train as a defender today and if he nails it today, then he's definitely a chance."
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Alterations at the selection table are only one consideration for Teague as he looks to help Carlton return to winning ways, with the Blues coach also pondering positional changes for this weekend.
Speaking on Thursday, Teague also flagged a potential shift into the backline for high-profile free agency recruit Zac Williams and suggested Sam Petrevski-Seton could be moved into his preferred position in the midfield.
"We've got lots of options at the moment," Teague said.
"We've got quite a flexible team. Zac Williams can go back, Mitch McGovern can play at both ends which we tried the other night, Sam Petrevski-Seton has been at half-back but we know he can play through the midfield.
"Our team is quite flexible and we know we've got lots of options."
Despite the club's struggles in an unconvincing loss to Port Adelaide last Saturday night, Teague's belief hasn't wavered as the club continues to target its first finals appearance in eight years.
"I believe in this group," Teague said.
"I think this group trains hard, they prepare well … right now, we've just got some work to do. We've got to get better and we've got to be stronger in the contest. We've got to be better defensively and we're not making the most of our inside-50s.
"What's the number one key stat to winning? It's inside-50 differential. We're getting that, but we're getting scored against too easily and we're not kicking goals when we go inside 50.
"There are aspects of our game that I think will hold up going forward, but we've got so many areas that we have to get better at. Our fans want it to happen straightaway and so do we, but unfortunately it's a work in progress."