As Geelong midfielder Brandon Parfitt was ruled out for the rest of the year, another Cat, whose season was assumed to be over, Tom Stewart made a tantalising return to training.
Stewart returned to straight line running and kicking the ball in training on Sunday, as he continues to rehabilitate from a Lisfranc ligament injury in his foot that required surgery.
While it would still appear highly unlikely the All-Australian defender could make a return this year if the Cats got through the preliminary final and into a grand final two weeks later, presently they are not prepared to completely rule him out.
Tom Stewart is back training with the Cats. Credit:AFL Photos
Stewart’s long-term future is the priority as coach Chris Scott has previously said and football manager Simon Lloyd reiterated on Monday, but the sight of Stewart back in training was encouraging for the spirits of the Cats players and officials currently in Perth.
Brandon Parfitt. Credit:Getty Images
“We will entertain it when we need to entertain it,” Lloyd said of Stewart’s possible surprise availability should the Cats prevail in the preliminary final.
“He has commenced running and kicking, running in straight lines, and he pulled up well, but he still needs to tick off a lot of areas – change of direction, aerial work, speed – before going further and, at this point in time, as we sit here, we don’t need to make that decision.
“It will be a medical-based decision on what happens with Tom next, not a football one, and it will be with Tom’s long-term health in mind.
“So while he has started running that is just part of his rehabilitation program, he is not ahead of it, he has not been accelerated, he is still on the time line we set out from the start.”
It might only be wishful thinking from fans – as respected sports medico Dr Peter Larkins said when the possibility of a return was first mooted – but the impact of Stewart out running again was a lift for the Geelong players.
Meanwhile, the club confirmed Brandon Parfitt will need to have surgery to repair a high-grade hamstring tear suffered in the win over the Giants.
Veteran recruit Shaun Higgins, Luke Dahlhaus, Zac Guthrie, Jordan Clarke and Sam Simpson are among the players in consideration to come into the team.
The Cats will be different to the team that lost to Melbourne in the final round of the season, courtesy of Max Gawn’s goal after the siren, with midfielder Mitch Duncan, defender Zach Tuohy and power forward and second ruck Esava Ratugolea now all in the team.
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