AT CARLTON, he is known simply as 'King'. And for the next three months, as the Blues face a defining stretch of their season, Tom De Koning will need to rule the ruck division at Ikon Park.

A brutal PCL injury to Carlton's first-choice big man Marc Pittonet, sustained in Saturday night's loss to Fremantle, will leave the Blues desperately thin in their ruck stocks for much of the season.

The high-leaping De Koning, who won't turn 23 until later this year, will shoulder the long-term ruck burden throughout the season. Carlton is confident in his ability to step up, its belief emboldened by the best glimpses of his 27-game career coming in matches where he's been asked to be the side's sole ruckman.

Indeed, that was the case against the Dockers at Optus Stadium. Rucking against their reigning best and fairest Sean Darcy, the young De Koning finished with 17 disposals, 15 hitouts, six marks and five clearances in arguably one of the best individual performances of his fledgling career.

Tom De Koning rucks against Rory Lobb in Carlton's loss to Fremantle in round six, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

In the short-term, De Koning won't have much support. Young rookie Alex Mirkov, a former volleyballer who stands at 210cm, is the only other fit and available full-time ruckman on the club's list.

However, despite showing promising signs of his development at VFL level, finishing with 42 hitouts over the weekend, the 22-year-old is still viewed as incredibly raw. Internally, it's said Mirkov would be unlikely to make the step up to senior level any time soon, unless more injuries strike.

Jack Silvagni has proved himself a capable chop-out ruckman over the last 18 months and will soon deputise for De Koning again, but even his place in this weekend's clash with North Melbourne is in doubt as he continues to battle an ankle injury. The 191cm forward missed last weekend's trip to Western Australia and will face a fitness test later this week.

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Carlton, of course, does have an option who was used as a full-time ruckman in two finals games last season. That being ex-Western Bulldogs defender Lewis Young, who has proved himself capable of playing in the position.

Young, who stands at 198cm, played four consecutive games last year – including both the Dogs' qualifying final win against Essendon and their semi-final victory against Brisbane – as the side's No.1 ruck. He averaged 10.3 disposals, 11.3 hitouts, 2.3 marks and 1.5 clearances per game in that time.

Jordan Boyd and Lewis Young embrace during Carlton's win over Hawthorn in round three, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

But even using Young in the ruck is complicated for the Blues, as it would likely be dependent on the side regaining depth in their depleted key defensive stocks. Currently, both Oscar McDonald and Mitch McGovern are sidelined. Their absences paved the way for Young to make his mark in Michael Voss' side in the first place.

McDonald is considered a week-by-week proposition as he continues his recovery from persistent back issues, while McGovern is at least another week away from returning after a hamstring injury.

Until they return, or pending Silvagni's fitness, the options are limited for Carlton. The loss of Pittonet, who ranks No.1 in the AFL for hitout-to-advantage percentage for all rucks with more than 100 contests, will undoubtedly be significant for a side who has relied heavily on clearance domination in the first six weeks of the season.

Midfielders like Patrick Cripps, Will Setterfield and Matt Kennedy could play a similar role to that of ex-Richmond part-time ruckman Shaun Grigg in weeks to come, especially if Silvagni is not deemed fit enough to return.

But, for now, De Koning will lead the way. The Blues will need him to step up to the throne.