CARLTON coach Michael Voss is confident he won't need to manage the minutes of Mitch McGovern as the swingman prepares to play his first AFL match since round two.
McGovern made an impressive switch to defence earlier this season, but the experiment lasted just two rounds before he was struck down by a hamstring injury.
Another hamstring setback at training forced the 27-year-old to have surgery, but McGovern will return in Sunday's clash with Greater Western Sydney at Marvel Stadium after making it through last week's VFL hitout unscathed.
McGovern's AFL return is a massive boost to the injury-hit Blues, who are still missing Caleb Marchbank, Oscar McDonald and Zac Williams from their defensive stocks.
"It's been a long time. We've missed him," Voss said.
"He was a pretty important member to our team earlier this season.
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"It was a bit unfortunate he had that setback. From a personnel point of view we've lost a few along the way, but to get him back is a real bonus for us at this time of the year."
Voss feels McGovern's strong body of work at training, combined with last week's VFL hitout, means his minutes won't need to be managed against the Giants.
"That's what the purpose of last week was, the VFL gave us a chance to manage anything that we needed to," Voss said.
"He got through so well. He's had a great block of training now.
"We've been able to get a quality five, six weeks under his belt. He's got plenty of load."
Voss said the timing of McGovern's return would give the swingman enough time to build a solid connection with the defensive group before finals.
"The continuity is really important," Voss said.
"It's one thing to integrate people back into the team, but when they've been missing for a long time those relationships and that connection … they build with other defenders is really important.
"We've got some pretty important games, so it's timely that he returns."
The seventh-placed Blues (11-6) can push their way back into the top four with a strong finish to the season.
After taking on GWS and Adelaide, the Blues face off against fellow top-four contenders Brisbane, Melbourne and Collingwood.