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Cats say Crameri not far off

Ben Guthrie - AFL Media  December 21, 2017 9:13 AM

Stewart Crameri is aiming to for the JLT Community Series - Geelong Cats,Stewart Crameri

Stewart Crameri is aiming to for the JLT Community Series

GEELONG is confident of having mature-age rookie recruit Stewart Crameri available for the start of the JLT Community Series, despite an interrupted preparation leading up to the 2018 season.

Before they used their first pick at this year's NAB AFL Rookie Draft (No.16 overall) to select the former Bulldog and Bomber, Cats coach Chris Scott said the club was cognisant of the fact Crameri's resilience would have to be built up slowly to the training program set out for him.

The 29-year-old has played just two senior games in the past two seasons, with a debilitating hip injury cutting him down in his final season at the Bulldogs.

"He's still a little bit delayed and we knew that and we knew we had to careful with him once we took him," Scott said.

"He had both hips done during the year and it got to the point where it looked like he wasn't going to play so that (the surgeries) delayed him a bit further. 

"Besides long kicking he's pretty much unencumbered, not that we're pushing him in to anything."

The Cats are hoping to have Crameri back in full training by the end of January, according to Scott. 

"Expect to see him doing decent work in late January. When I say decent work, team-based stuff," Scott said.

If that timeline remains fluid, Crameri is almost certain to not take part in the club's AFLX campaign in February. 

However, with the Cats' first JLT Community Series game not until March 4 against Gold Coast that leaves the door open for Crameri to get some much-needed match practice in after such a long layoff.

The former Bomber was suspended for the entire 2016 season as part of his involvement in the club's ill-fated supplements program in 2012.

Geelong opens its home and away season against Melbourne on March 25 at the MCG, with Crameri expected to be pushing for senior selection from the outset if his body holds up.

Crameri booted 96 goals in 57 games for Essendon between 2010 and 2013 and 70 goals in 42 appearances for the Bulldogs after joining the club for the 2014 season.

Meanwhile, star defender Lachie Henderson is due to return to the training track in January after a second bout of knee surgery in as many months.

The 27-year-old had an arthroscope on his right knee last Tuesday after being plagued by soreness since his original October operation. 

Scott said the Cats were not too worried by the nature of the injury, knowing there was some chance he may have had to go under the knife again after the initial procedure.

"I'm guessing to an extent with Lachie but the information we have is that this will be a minor one," Scott said.

"Early January he'll be back into action."