K rock Football

Narkle to bring the sparkle

Quinton Narkle in action for Geelong during the previous meeting with the Northern Blues in April. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

QUINTON Narkle is poised to add X-factor to Geelong’s engine room in the VFL on Saturday after being named to return from injury.

The 21-year-old speedster was sidelined by a hamstring complaint over the past month and took a cautious approach to his rehabilitation program.

But he has been given the green light after training strongly this week and will be allowed the freedom to play his explosive brand of football through the midfield against Northern Blues at Ikon Park.

“We just want him to play to his strengths,” Geelong VFL coach Shane O’Bree said.

“He’s a good contested player, and he’s explosive away from stoppages.

“If we can see a bit of that and he can finish his work off and be a good teammate, that’s what we’re looking forward to.”

Drafted in 2016, Narkle suffered a significant setback in his first season at Geelong when he ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament.

He fought his way back and played his first six AFL games late last year, but was left out for the finals.

The Perth product is yet to play at the top level this year and sits among a growing group of fringe players trying to push their way back into the Cats’ dominant senior side.

“Narks is in the same boat as a good half a dozen our blokes who have played a bit of AFL football and are fighting their way back at VFL level,” O’Bree said.

“They’re all in pretty good form. We’re best off getting Narks back in form as soon as possible so he can put his hand up for senior selection.”

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Lachie Fogarty and Jed Bews were promoted to the AFL side after playing well in the VFL thumping of Frankston last week, while Scott Selwood was named as an emergency for the team that takes on Adelaide at GMHBA Stadium on Friday night.

AFL-listed players Zac Smith, Oscar Brownless, Blake Schlensog, Jake Tarca, James Parsons and Jacob Kennerley were all named as VFL inclusions and will play against the Blues.

Experienced defender Lachie Henderson was picked to play a second straight VFL match on return from a serious foot injury despite concerns over a sore left shoulder, which he injured last week.

Newtown & Chilwell’s Ned Harris will make his debut for the Cats as 23rd man.

Geelong has won four of its past five matches and sits in eighth spot, marginally ahead of this week’s opponent on percentage.

However, Northern has a game in hand.

The two sides last met in Round 2, when the Blues prevailed by one point.

“Their midfield and ruck combination is going to test us out, and it’s going to be a great challenge for us,” O’Bree said.

“Our boys are up for that. I think we’re in pretty good form.

“We probably learnt a few lessons defensively and in attack when we played them last time.

“We’re on their deck, which they play well, and we’re looking forward to keeping on building like we have all year.”

Twitter: @shayne_hope

VFL ROUND 13

NORTHERN BLUES (9th) vs. GEELONG (8th)

IKON Park

Saturday, June 29, 2:00 pm