Cats drop Kersten again in AFL

Forward Shane Kersten has again lost his place in Geelong’s AFL side as the finals loom.

The Cats made one change for the Friday night blockbuster in Geelong against the Western Bulldogs, dropping Kersten and recalling ruckman Zac Smith.

It is the second time in a month that Geelong have dropped Kersten, who has kicked 21 goals this season from 15 matches.

Smith was a late withdrawal with soreness from last week’s big home win over Adelaide.

Key defender Lachie Henderson remains out of the team as he recovers from concussion.

While the Cats are settling their side, injuries forced the Bulldogs to make five changes.

In a crucial blow, they lost veteran defenders Dale Morris (hamstring soreness) and Matthew Boyd (Achilles).

Matt Suckling (Achilles) was another casualty, while Mitch Wallis (broken leg) and Jack Redpath (knee reconstruction) had season-ending operations during the week.

There is some good news, with star forwards Jake Stringer and Luke Dahlhaus returning.

Stringer missed last weekend with a shoulder problem, while Dahlhaus has recovered from the leg injury that had kept him out of the team since round 12.

Zaine Cordy will also play his first senior game this season and the third of his career.

He and Tom Boyd served club suspensions after a drunken fight at a pub last month that left Cordy needing medical attention.

Jed Adcock and Joel Hamling are the other Bulldogs inclusions.

It is a massive game for the two teams, with Geelong determined to honour Jimmy Bartel’s 300th game and Corey Enright’s club-record 326th match with a win.

The Bulldogs dropped out of the top four with last week’s upset loss to St Kilda and upsetting Geelong would be a significant morale boost.

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