K rock Football

Cats remain cautious with Cocky

Nakia Cockatoo in action on his return to football in Geelong’s VFL win over Port Melbourne. (Geelong Cats Image/Arj Giese)

GEELONG will continue to take a cautious approach to Nakia Cockatoo’s return from a long-term knee injury as it attempts to secure a VFL finals berth with a victory over North Melbourne at GMHBA Stadium.

Cockatoo got through the first half of his comeback match unscathed last week before being rested after the main break and is hopeful of seeing three quarters of action on Saturday in his second appearance.

But the explosive midfielder has been on light duties this week as the Cats carefully negotiate a six-day break.

“With the short week this week he hasn’t done a hell of a lot, so we’ll be very cautious with him,” Geelong VFL coach Shane O’Bree said.

“How he’s feeling on game day will dictate how much game time he plays.”

Geelong named AFL veterans Lachie Henderson and Scott Selwood in its VFL side, with exciting midfielder Quinton Narkle promoted to play his first senior match in almost a year.

Zach Guthrie (ankle) and Nathan Kreuger (knee) are set to return at VFL level just three weeks after nasty injuries threatened to end their seasons.

“They’ve both had a pretty good training block, and they were close to playing last week,” O’Bree said.

“We got an extra week up our sleeve with the younger players because they’re so important to our program.

“They should be raring to go this week. Both of them looked like really serious injuries at the time, but they’re fast healers and they’ve recovered really well.”

VFLW: HICKEY NAMED IN CATS SIDE

The versatile Kreuger could line up at either end and would be part of a dangerous tall forward line if he lined up next to Wylie Buzza and Darcy Fort.

Buzza (three) and Fort (six) combined for nine goals in last week’s strong win over Port Melbourne, which gave Geelong a two-win buffer over teams currently outside the top eight.

A fourth consecutive win for the Cats would all but confirm a spot in September with two rounds to play in the home-and-away season.

But they are wary of a North Melbourne side that won by 20 points when the teams last met, at Avalon Airport Oval in round six.

“They’re a sneaky team because when they get up and running, they play on a lot of emotion,” O’Bree said.

“They showed us that earlier in the year when they got on a roll, and we couldn’t stop them.

“We’ll be up for that challenge this week at home in the curtain-raiser, which the boys love.”

O’Bree urged Geelong fans attending Saturday night’s AFL fixture to arrive early at GMHBA Stadium to cheer on his VFL side.

Twitter: @shayne_hope

VFL ROUND 19

GEELONG (6th) vs. NORTH MELBOURNE (13th)

GMHBA Stadium

Saturday, August 10, 3:45pm