K rock Football

VFL Cats set for post-bye boost

Geelong VFL defender Aaron Black. (Marcel Berens)

FORMER AFL-listed players Aaron Black and Dean Gore are poised to return from injury after the mid-season bye to bolster Geelong’s VFL finals push.

The Cats sit 10th, four points out of the top eight after their three-match winning streak was ended by ladder leader Richmond in a hard-fought contest last week.

But the relative health of Geelong’s senior list has its VFL side well-placed to attack the second half of the season, and the imminent availability of Black (hamstring) and Gore (finger) should only help their cause.

“I think they’ll be very close after the break,” Geelong VFL coach Shane O’Bree said.

“What we need with the VFL team is to choose players that are very flexible and can play multiple positions and understand the way that we want to play and be good leaders on the ground and help our younger group.

“Those two boys fit those categories, but it’s just a matter of match fitness and where they’re at with training form, and we’ll get a gauge of where they’re at.”

VFL co-captain Black played three of the first four matches this season but has been sidelined since early May with a hamstring injury.

The versatile key position player will be employed in the backline with AFL-listed talls Wylie Buzza, Darcy Fort and Ryan Abbott currently occupying spots in attack.

“He’ll be down back because we’re too tall up forward as it is and Blacky is obviously flexible, so at this stage, he’ll be playing down back,” O’Bree said.

“It’s a challenging one, but it’s also exciting because those other guys get to work on their forward line craft.

“In the last two games the conditions haven’t suited, but we haven’t helped each other out either because we’ve been competing with each other.

“That’s a bit of chemistry and working together and understanding where they’re at on the ground to help each other out on the ground.

“It will certainly be a strength of our team if we do work together.”

Black took a spot on Geelong’s VFL list this year after spending eight seasons in the AFL system with the Cats and North Melbourne.

His 57-game career at the top level came to an end after a serious knee injury last year.

Gore, who returned to Geelong as part of the VFL side after being delisted by Adelaide at the end of 2017, had his 2018 campaign ruined by a knee injury.

The 22-year-old was named in the Cats’ leadership group this season, but his comeback lasted just one game because of a finger injury sustained at training before Round 2.

Gore underwent surgery to repair tendon damage and is on the verge of declaring himself fit.

“Before he hurt his finger he was playing really well as an inside mid and as a high defender, so we know he can play multiple positions and play a role within the team,” O’Bree said.

“That might change from quarter to quarter, and that’s what we’re after when Gorey gets up and running again.”

Meanwhile, AFL-listed duo Lachie Henderson (foot) and Quinton Narkle (hamstring) are nearing fitness and could return through VFL ranks after the bye.

Nakia Cockatoo (knee), Jordan Cunico (ankle) and Sam Menegola (knee) are all still at least a month away from returning to action.

Twitter: @shayne_hope