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Harry in race against time

Harry Taylor will have to prove his fitness to play Thursday night. - Geelong Cats
Harry Taylor will have to prove his fitness to play Thursday night.

DOUBTS over Harry Taylor's fitness could pave the way for Geelong to make ruckman Ryan Abbott its seventh debutant of the season against Adelaide on Thursday night.

Taylor failed to train on Monday and remains in a race against time after pulling up sore despite kicking the sealer in the Cats' win over Sydney last week.

Missing Geelong's VFL win on Sunday through illness could prove a blessing in disguise for Abbott, who is in the frame for the trip to face the Crows.

An impressive month of football before the bye had the 27-year-old, in his second year at the club, in the selection discussion before Rhys Stanley's form skyrocketed.

With Taylor having played forward and spending time as the back-up ruckman in the past fortnight, Abbott's potential inclusion could see him work in tandem with Stanley.

"We're still really open-minded of that group of players. We've got some players we think are more that capable in that role," coach Chris Scott said of the ruck options on Monday.

"Ryan Abbott's one, he didn't play on the weekend but if anything, that leaves him in a better position to play on Thursday night."

Abbott was selected at pick No.69 in the 2016 NAB AFL Draft after starring for the club's VFL side while playing for Geelong Football League club Grovedale.

When pressed on Abbott's chances of debuting, Scott hinted: "I'd go with that if I were you."

In more positive news for Geelong's ruck stocks, Esava Ratugolea is set to resume running this week in a bid for a late season return after breaking his leg in round 10.

Midfielder Jordan Murdoch copped a head knock against the Swans and is still yet to be cleared to take on the Crows, despite training with teammates on Monday.

Second-year midfielder Sam Simpson is also in the frame to be on the flight to Adelaide after playing restricted minutes in the VFL on Sunday.

Barring any setbacks, Daniel Menzel is in line to play his first game since round five after a 10-week groin injury.
Scott was forced to respond to criticism of Gary Ablett's impact in his first year back at Kardinia Park, led by dual premiership Cat Cameron Mooney.

"I must admit sometimes I find it a little bit amusing, that we go from being too dependent on one or two midfielders to now having a group of players performing well as a unit and we go back to criticism of individuals," Scott said.

"Gary's 34 (years old), we're really happy with the role he's played for us, he's played some games that are better than others. His commitment to play the role we ask of him is first class."

Nakia Cockatoo is finally set to shake off illness and return via the VFL following a round three knee injury, while Lincoln McCarthy will be considered after a round 13 hamstring.

Cory Gregson sat out the latter parts of the VFL clash with foot soreness, with Scott hopeful he wasn't set for more time on the sidelines after a history of stress fractures on his navicular bone.

Scott also suggested Lachie Henderson would be in the conversation for an AFL return against Melbourne in round 18 after building up VFL form after three knee surgeries. 

Geelong's debutants 2017/18

2018

Tim Kelly – Pick 24, 2017 NAB AFL Draft
Esava Ratugolea – Pick 43, 2016 draft 
Lachie Fogarty – Pick 22, 2017 draft
Jack Henry – Pick 16, 2017 NAB AFL Rookie Draft
Jamaine Jones – Pick 48, 2017 rookie draft
Quinton Narkle – Pick 60, 2016 draft

2017

Tom Stewart – Pick 40, 2016 draft
Brandan Parfitt – Pick 26, 2016 draft
James Parsons – Pick 27, 2015 rookie draft
Zach Guthrie – Pick 33, 2017 rookie draft
Jordan Cunico – Pick 59, 2014 draft
Wylie Buzza – Pick 69, 2015 draft
Sam Simpson – Pick 53, 2017 rookie draft
Mark O'Connor – Category B rookie selection, 2016

 

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs