Trio in the mix as Gaz returns

Esava Ratugolea. (Luke Hemer) 201937_13

By Luke Voogt

Three tall Cats are a chance to play against Essendon on Sunday with ruckman Rhys Stanley nursing groin soreness.

Coach Chris Scott on Tuesday told a press conference the Cats would leave a decision on Stanley until closer to the game.

“He did a little bit this morning but … not enough to tell whether he’s on the right track or not,” he said.

“He’s far from ruled out this week.”

The possible omission would open the door for ruckman Darcy Fort, who was sidelined with a foot injury in round 7.

Athletic forward-ruck Esava Ratugolea is another option after a strong performance against Western Bulldog’s reserves last weekend.

And former Crows tall forward Josh Jenkins, who can play ruck, also had a good game for the seconds, making a case for his senior debut for the Cats.

Captain Joel Selwood remains in doubt due to a knee “niggle” he sustained against Port Adelaide in round 12.

Scott said Selwood would only play when the Cats were sure he could perform at his best for consecutive weeks.

“His training session this morning was really promising, so we haven’t taken it off the table. I wouldn’t panic if he doesn’t play this week.”

Scott said the Cats would “wait as long as we can” with Zach Tuohy, who is due to play his 200th game.

Touhy is battling rib soreness sustained two hard hits in the Cats comeback victory against the Bulldogs last Friday.

Scott described the tough, long-kicking Irishman as a “warrior” and committed team player.

“We’ve got to do a little more than ask him [to play], because if we ask him he will play and that may not be the best thing,” he said.

“But I suspect it’s all tracking pretty positively for Zach.”

Gary Ablett looks likely to join the Cats for their final game against Sydney following a 14-day quarantine after he flew to Queensland with his family on Tuesday.

Ablett has been training with former Cats defender Andrew Mackie after returning to Geelong in July as his son Levi battles a degenerative illness.

Scott indicated a high level of confidence in Ablett returning to the side for the final game.

But exciting young prospect Nakia Cockatoo looks unlikely to make his AFL return after an injury-plagued run since his 2015 debut.

Scott expected Cockatoo to be a star player in the next several years but warned against risking injury by reintroducing him prematurely.

“I don’t think it’s a secret that his partner’s pregnant,” Scott said.

“It would be an extra challenge managing footy in a normal situation, but this just makes it that much more difficult.”

The Cats would “have no excuses” in terms of “freshness and ability to perform” with a nine-day break before facing Essendon on Sunday, Scott said.

The Bombers have just fours days to recover after losing to West Coast on Tuesday night, but could be dangerous as they fight to remain in finals contention.

While the Cats have been poor after extended breaks in recent years, their round 15 bye this week is only a nine-day rest amid this year’s compressed fixture.

With Geelong locked in a tight four-way battle for a top-two spot, the next three games are crucial.

Cats by 25 points.

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