Geelong coach Chris Scott expects to welcome back game-breaking utility Steve Johnson for Friday night’s AFL qualifying final against arch-rivals Hawthorn.
Johnson has missed the Cats’ past three matches, including the 62-point romp over Brisbane at Simonds Stadium in the concluding round of the home and away season.
D-day for the triple premiership star will be Geelong’s main training session on Wednesday.
“(Johnson’s recovery is) still going to plan, and the plan revolves around him training this week and then playing on Friday night,” said Scott.
“It’s actually pretty simple.
“He’s got a sore foot. If it’s pain free and he trains, he plays.
“We don’t have any reason to believe that won’t happen. We’re preparing for him to play.”
Tom Hawkins was the best forward on the ground against the Lions, finishing with a career-high seven goals and will head into September in peak form and fitness.
It is a far cry from last season, when Hawkins was hampered by a back problem throughout a campaign which ended when the Cats were edged out by Hawthorn in an epic preliminary final .
“So many things change so it’s a bit simplistic to just say we were one kick away from a grand final last year with Tom pretty lame and this year that he is a dominant player it will make all the difference,” said Scott.
“Our team is very different, we’re more inexperienced again and that’s exciting for us because we have some players who we know can play the footy that is good enough.
“Maybe the rest of the competition and even our supporters haven’t seen it as consistently as they saw it from (Paul) Chapman and (Joel)Corey and Josh Hunt.
“We’re still extremely positive.”
Tall fringe players Josh Walker and Mitch Brown both did some impressive things against the Lions, but they are effectively playing for the one spot – at most – in the team with ruckman Hamish McIntosh certain to return against the Hawks.
The Cats will be further strengthened by the inclusions of Steven Motlop and Allen Christensen, with Johnson shaping as the wildcard.