Geelong coach Chris Scott insists he is preparing for Lance Franklin to front up for the Hawks in Friday night's blockbuster at the MCG, despite reports from the club that the star spearhead will miss another two weeks.
Franklin has already missed three weeks with a hamstring injury, but the Hawks are set to be extra cautious with the 25-year-old, with football manager Mark Evans saying the Coleman Medal favourite may be given another fortnight to make sure he is right to play finals.
However, Scott is not buying into anything the Hawks are saying on Franklin, and will tell his defenders to expect him to front up on Friday night.
"I'm certainly not prepared to back a report saying he is not going to play and forget about him because he's the last bloke you want to be surprised by," he said.
If Franklin should front up, Scott is confident that Cats have the personnel and defensive structure to thwart him, having kept him to 14 goals in the past five matches between the two teams.
"I'm loathe to say we have got a good record on him, because he has played some exceptionally footy against all teams, but our key defenders are important to us," he said.
"If Buddy doesn't play then Gunston and Roughead and Hale are going to provide a pretty formidable challenge."
Scott is seriously contemplating an important forward inclusion of his own with James Podsiadly set to play his first game since injuring his ankle in Round 14 against Port Adelaide.
Podsiadly, who has never lost to Hawthorn, has kicked 14 goals in his past three matches against the Hawks, including six in the first half in Round 12 last year.
Scott said Podsiadly's return wouldn't necessarily mean a demotion for youngster Josh Walker and that the Cats are seriously consider playing three tall forwards.
"We've played three tall forwards quite a bit in the past year and half, and we think that can work for us," he said.
"The other model certainly works okay for us as well so it is something we have to consider. Josh Walker has been playing an important role for us and has well and truly done enough to hold his spot. It would be unlikely for him to go out."
In a further boost for Cats' fans, Steve Johnson is expected to overcome the concussion suffered early in last Saturday's win over Adelaide, while Matthew Scarlett will return from suspension.Scott confirmed Joel Corey is expected to miss a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury.