Taylor, Ablett back to strengthen Cats

The Cats will be further strengthened by the return of Gary Ablett.Deciding whether to play swingman Harry Taylor forward or back and figuring out how best to slot Gary Ablett into a stacked midfield – as problems go, they are pretty good ones for Geelong coach Chris Scott.

The sixth-placed Cats have been strengthened by the return of Taylor from a foot injury and Ablett from a strained hamstring for Sunday’s big AFL clash against Collingwood.

Taylor will play for the first time since round one, although whether that’s as a key forward in place of the suspended Tom Hawkins or in a key defensive role against Magpies’ man mountain Mason Cox is yet to be revealed.

“I don’t want to tell Collingwood what we’re doing,” Scott said on Friday.

(Playing two-time All-n defender Taylor as a pinch-hitting forward) is a live option.

“We played them in round 22 last year and Harry played forward to reasonable effect.”

Geelong’s inexperienced back six have stood up manfully in the absence through injury of Taylor and Lachie Henderson, although Scott admits the presence of the 211cm Cox in the Collingwood attack presents a unique challenge.

Ablett will return for the first time since straining a hamstring in round three, with Sunday’s MCG encounter marking the first time that he, skipper Joel Selwood, Patrick Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan and first-year sensation Tim Kelly will line up together in the Cats’ engine-room.

“That’s an opportunity but it’s also a challenge in terms of building that cohesion,” said Scott.

“I suspect there will be some teething problems with that.

“But for a long time we’ve been searching for a deep midfield so you won’t hear me complain too strongly that we’ve got too many players and not enough positions.”

Scott admitted the two-time Brownlow medallist could almost certainly have returned for last week’s big win over GWS.

I suspect we’ve made a bit of an error in that he could have played a little bit earlier but we were always comfortable that if we erred it would be better than the other way,” he said.

Geelong announced on Friday that versatile tall Mark Blicavs had signed a five-year contract extension, taking him through until the end of the 2023 season.

It’s a huge show of faith in a player who spent his teenage years as a distance runner with Olympic ambitions, before being rookie-listed by the Cats in 2012.

“He’s very keen to be a one-club player and we are very keen for him to be that as well,” said Scott.

“It’s acknowledgment on his part that our club has really supported his development.

“But even more importantly, it’s acknowledgment of how important he has become to us.”

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