Cream returns for Cats

Sportal July 24, 2012, 4:00 pm
Jimmy Bartel

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Despite losing defender Matthew Scarlett to suspension, it will be a reinforced Geelong side which hosts Adelaide in a crucial clash at Simonds Stadium on Saturday, with Jimmy Bartel and Allan Christensen among the likely inclusions.

Scarlett's one-match ban for striking Essendon's Corey Dell'Olio will mean a re-shuffle in defence, but mercurial forward Steve Johnson is pressing his claims to take on the Crows.

Johnson was subbed out at three-quarter time of the reigning premier's 67-point win over Essendon last Friday night after suffering a minor groin problem.

Geelong coach Chris Scott highlighted defenders Tom Gillies and Mitch Brown as strong contenders to replace Scarlett, insisting he will play the customary three talls down there even if Crows forward Kurt Tippett does not play after suffering his third concussion in four weeks.

"Obviously Scarlett goes out, but it's going to be extremely difficult to make a decision on others that may go out, because we were really happy with the even performance we got from our players on the weekend," Scott said.

"It's going to be a really interesting discussion (Scarlett's replacement), because we have some young key-position players that have been playing very well at VFL-level.

"We're really optimistic that Tom Gillies can be an AFL defender, so he'll be in the frame.

"And Mitch Brown's been outstanding for a number of weeks at VFL-level too, so it's nice to have some options there.

"But it's not a given that we'll replace a key defender with another one."

Tippett's availability is in doubt following another concussion, this time caused by a head clash with West Coast Eagle Beau Waters on Sunday.

But Adelaide coach Brenton Sanderson has not confirmed whether he will start.

"Most of the time we play three tall defenders, irrespective of the opposition," Scott said.

Johnson did not take part in Tuesday's training session but is expected to recover from his groin injury in time to face the Crows.

"We're still really optimistic that he'll be available to play, but I'm not prepared to guarantee that he'll play," Scott said.

"Our medical staff made a terrific decision to sub him last week, and we're hopeful that decision will mean he's available this week."

Meanwhile, Bartel is a certain starter after serving his two-match suspension for striking, while Christensen has recovered from a shoulder injury.

Also on track is speedster David Wojcinski, who is close to overcoming a hamstring injury, but key forward James Podsiadly is still battling an ankle problem and is likely to miss out.

"The main focus will be on (Wednesday's) session," Scott said.

"We won't know whether he'll (Podsiadly) be fit to play until at least Thursday or Friday."

Geelong were comprehensively beaten last time they met the Crows in Round 7 at AAMI Stadium, going down by 50 points after trailing by 14 goals at half-time, but they were impressive in an emphatic victory over the Bombers.

Nevertheless, Scott said their latest win provided no guarantee their strong form would continue.

"I think the Geelong footy team has set a pretty high standard for a long time so it's going to take more than one game to set a new standard," he said.

"Certainly we played better than we have and we're confident that we can play just as well if not better this week."

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