Geelong are confident Travis Varcoe will be fit to take on Sydney next Saturday even though the livewire lasted just a quarter in his AFL comeback from a chronic foot injury.
The Cats' 34-point win over the Western Bulldogs on Sunday at Simonds Stadium was Varcoe's first AFL match since starring in last year's grand final win.
The 24-year-old, considered an ace up Geelong's sleeve ahead of the finals, sustained foot stress fractures in January and has had several setbacks in his recovery before making a successful VFL comeback last weekend.
But he hobbled into the rooms at quarter-time and did not return before being subbed out of the game early in the second quarter.
"Looks like he's just stretched the joint in his foot, near his ankle," Geelong coach Chris Scott said.
"He's done something a little bit new. He's had a stress fracture in his foot, and this is a completely different joint, different area of the foot.
"They don't think it's too serious, but there was certainly no point risking it, given that we took a little bit of a risk to play him anyway."
The Cats are desperate to get as much match fitness into Varcoe as possible and Scott admitted they wanted him to play much more than 17 minutes.
"I can understand his hesitancy when he felt some pain in that area, but he and the medical staff are very confident it is unrelated and more minor - more a joint thing than a broken fracture, bruising-type issue," he said.
"They think he'll be OK for next week, without being in a position to guarantee it."
Scott described the performance of the reigning premiers as 'OK but not much more than that'.
"The bottom line is that the result of today's game didn't mean a lot and I thought we played accordingly at times," he said.
"I thought our first half was pretty good. Third quarter got away from us a little bit. But when it counted, particularly early, we played pretty well.
"The conditions made it a bit of a scrappy day, so I think we'll come away thinking we've got a chance to work on a few things and we've still got a bit of room for improvement."
Scott was unconcerned by the fact the Cats were thrashed in the clearance count 42-23 and had 383 possessions to the Bulldogs' 425.
"Some of the statistical numbers weren't great. But in some ways I think that is an indication of the way modern footy is played. Some of the things that people have held very dear maybe aren't as important as they think they are," he said.
"We all need to acknowledge that there is a little bit more to it than raw numbers."Meanwhile, Billie Smedts will miss at least next week's clash against Sydney after breaking his finger during the second quarter.