Cats receive mixed news on injury front

TRIPLE premiership players Paul Chapman and Andrew Mackie will make their first NAB Cup appearances for the year when Geelong hosts Adelaide at Simonds Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Mathew Stokes is helped off the field after hurting himself against West Coast

But small forward Mathew Stokes will have the weekend off as he nurses the ankle injury he suffered in the Cats’ opening pre-season match against West Coast in Perth. “(Stokes is) progressing pretty well,” Geelong assistant coach Dale Amos said on Tuesday. “It’s the type of high ankle injury that progresses quite quickly for a start, but then can be a little bit slower. He had a similar injury last year, and I think it’s ahead of where he was last year. So it could slow down or it could progress quite quickly. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.”

Whether Stokes will be fit for Geelong’s round three NAB Cup match against North Melbourne remains unclear.

But there are no such problems for Chapman.

The 31-year-old, who struggled with form and fitness in 2012, has been one of the Cats’ outstanding performers on the track during the pre-season. “He’s motivated by trying to play in the midfield and spend some time further up the ground,” Amos said. “He’s in good shape. He’s had an injury-free pre-season, and in terms of his preparation it probably couldn’t have gone any better. He’s looking forward to play, as most of the players are at this time of year. He’s ready to go.”

One of Chapman’s closest mates, defender Josh Hunt, is making a steady recovery from the bout of glandular fever that grounded him during January. “He’s increasing his load and seems to be coping pretty well at the moment,” Amos said. “He’s back into (ball-work) sessions, and he’s into more like what are normal training weeks for him now, which is quite a progression from where he was. We’re encouraged by the fact that he’s been recovering quite well and seems to be able to back it up and do it again. We’re still monitoring him, but it seems like he’s progressing quite well.”

On another note, GEELONG’S depleted ruck stocks have taken another hit, with Trent West having knee surgery.

Cats’ football manager Neil Balme told Geelong’s website that the operation was minor and the club’s No.1 ruckman should recover in time to play in the opening-round blockbuster against Hawthorn.

But the Cats will be nervously hoping he does, as they are struggling for ruck options.

Ex-North Melbourne recruit Hamish McIntosh is already on the sidelines and uncertain to be back for round one, having recently had fluid drained from a troublesome knee following LARS surgery performed on his right knee last August. “He’s going well,” Amos said. “I think everything’s tracking as planned, but in terms of a date for his return, I’m not too sure. He’s been doing quite a bit of cross training and he’s almost back to running again. I think for Hamish, given the injuries he’s had, that’s when he’ll start to get his confidence back – when he can start to get back out on the track and run around.”

Fellow big man Dawson Simpson had back surgery in early February and won’t be ready for the start of the home-and-away season.

The Cats’ other ruck option, Nathan Vardy, missed almost all of last season with hip problems and was kept out of the Cats’ opening-round pre-season games as the club manages his build-up to the season proper.