K rock Football

Quick return for Steven

Jack Steven in action for Geelong during the Round 3 loss to Carlton. (AFL Photos via Getty Images Image/Daniel Pockett)

JACK Steven will return to the line-up for Geelong’s big AFL clash with Collingwood, but key midfielder Mitch Duncan faces an uphill battle to prove his fitness.

The Cats, who arrived in the league’s Perth hub on Saturday, will kick off Round 7 with a tantalising match-up with the in-form Magpies at Optus Stadium on Thursday night.

Chris Scott’s men celebrated their short stay in Sydney with a 27-point win over Brisbane last week but lost Duncan and Quinton Narkle to hamstring injuries.

Narkle will miss at least a fortnight, but scans cleared Duncan of significant damage.

“He’s not ruled out, but that doesn’t make him in either,” Scott said of Duncan on Tuesday.

“We’re keeping our options open with Mitch because it was a minor issue and he’s made significant progress, but that’s as optimistic as I would like to be.

“We’re well aware of what the fixture might present over the next month or two, so our supporters can be assured that we’ll be making a decision with those challenges in mind.”

CATS: FREO TO FOLLOW PIES

Duncan was unable to play out the match against the Lions, with Tuesday’s main training session to give an important indication of the 29-year-old on-baller’s fitness.

Steven missed that game as Geelong managed his workload, but the four-time St Kilda best-and-fairest winner starred in limited minutes in a scratch match in Sydney.

“He played about 30 minutes of match practice on Friday and he’ll come back into our team,” Scott confirmed.

The coach reported his players, who are still serving a 14-day quarantine, have settled well in their new environment.

The AFL had promised Victorian clubs would only be away for a maximum of 32 days after they escaped the worsening coronavirus situation in their home state.

Geelong’s players largely chose to leave their families at home, but Scott doesn’t believe the decision will come back to haunt them should their stay in the hub be extended.

“If the worst-case scenario is we’ve got to stay longer to keep the game alive and keep everyone involved in our industry going then we’re more than happy to do it,” he said.

(C) AAP 2020