Geelong superstar Patrick Dangerfield is among four prime inclusions the Cats have made for Thursday night’s blockbuster against Port Adelaide but they will be without hard-running midfielder Cam Guthrie.
Dangerfield has recovered from a syndesmosis tear in his right ankle that required surgery, having hurt himself against North Melbourne in round five.
Patrick Dangerfield will return for the Cats this Thursday night.Credit:Getty Images
The prognosis for the eight-time All Australian had been that he would miss two months but he has returned slightly early.
Mitch Duncan (concussion), Mark Blicavs (calf) and Irish defender Mark O’Connor (hamstring) will also return, while Dangerfield will add more flexibility up forward and through the midfield.
“The bye probably came at a good time for him [Dangerfield]. It probably would have been a hard decision to play him if we had a game last week,” coach Chris Scott said.
“I suspect he would have come up for that one but the fact he had an extra week of training under his belt with his teammates as well is important because bringing new players back into the team does potentially cause some disruption.”
Scott said there would be no minutes restrictions on Dangerfield, and if that had been the case he would have resumed in the VFL.
The return of four key figures means Quinton Narkle has been squeezed from the 22, despite a breakout 34 touches against the Gold Coast and 25 against Collingwood leading into the bye. However, he could yet be used as the medical substitute.
Scott said Guthrie (shoulder), last year’s best and fairest and a late withdrawal against the Magpies, would return against the Western Bulldogs next Friday.
The Cats had built momentum, winning five of their six matches leading into the mid-season break, but must now overcome strict quarantine measures and a game-day flight to Adelaide ahead of their clash against their fellow premiership-contenders.
South Australian health officials have given the Cats an exemption to cross the border but they have either been in quarantine at home or in a hotel since 5pm on Monday, with only one exception for leaving – to train at GMHBA Stadium.
The Magpies overcame these complications against the Crows last weekend, and Scott said his team was ready to focus on the task at hand.
“We do have a bit of experience with a different environment over the last 18 months. I think our club, not just our players and staff, but our club has embraced that. That’s the attitude we are taking to this as well,” Scott said.
The Power prevailed by 16 points when the teams met in last year’s qualifying final in Adelaide, and it hasn’t been forgotten the Cats have have a poor record immediately after the bye of only two wins from 11 matches under Scott.
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