GEELONG will unleash midfielder Mitch Duncan against Port Adelaide in Friday night's qualifying final just 10 weeks after he suffered a serious PCL injury.
Duncan's return for the finals opener appeared unlikely a week ago, however coach Chris Scott admitted he had been purposely downplaying expectations on his star onballer.
The 30-year-old has clocked close to 50 days of running post-injury and will play his first match at any level since round 14 in a major boost to the Cats' engine room.
Veteran Zach Tuohy will be held back for one more week with his hamstring strain, while Scott confirmed Rhys Stanley was a certain starter after his direct opponent Max Gawn stole victory for Melbourne against the Cats last week.
"(I've) been managing expectations, to be honest," Scott said of Duncan's injury.
"It's been a really long, slow, deliberate recovery that ensured this knee won't affect him at the latter stages of his career. We thought we had enough time by the finals without playing him a week or two before we felt really needed to."
"We think he probably could've played before this. It's been a conservative plan. Initially we didn't think there would be a pre-finals bye. From a few weeks out we've been virtually certain he'd play this week."
The Cats are in hard quarantine ahead of their trip west but are still awaiting confirmation they can fly on Thursday to give themselves 24 hours of preparation in Adelaide.
Geelong's entire list is hitting the road for the month of finals with Scott expecting they will head to Perth following the match with the Power – regardless of the result.
Should the Cats beat the Power it's expected they would 'host' a preliminary final in Perth. However, should they fall to the Power, they will likely play the winner of the Sydney-Greater Western Sydney semi-final in Perth.