Geelong will send Mitch Clark into his first game of football in over a year with one clear message; ‘Just go out and enjoy yourself’.
Clark, who has fought a very public battle with depression, will play for the Cats’ VFL side this weekend after overcoming a chronic calf injury.
Coach Chris Scott is delighted with the 28-year-old’s progress and won’t be too fussed with how well he plays – at least early in his comeback.
“He hasn’t played for about a year so the expectations on performance shouldn’t – and won’t be – too high,” Scott said.
“But he’s in really good shape. He’s done a lot of work and clearly we’ve been conservative with his rehab plan. He probably could have been pushed to play a few weeks earlier but we’re more concerned about getting him back and feeling good.
“Even how well he plays – that’s not at the forefront of our minds. That will change over the next few weeks but Mitch is a talented player and we’re confident that if he’s in good physical shape then he could really help us toward the end of the season.
“But the first one back … just get out and play and enjoy it. Feel good and then as the weeks build we’ll focus more on how well he’s playing.”
Geelong’s reserves take on Sandringham at Simonds Stadium on Sunday.
In AFL selection news, Scott made three unforced changes to his side to play Greater Western Sydney, also at Simonds Stadium, on Saturday.
Daniel Menzel, Tom Ruggles and Lincoln McCarthy earned recalls at the expense of Jordan Murdoch, Billie Smedts and Cory Gregson.
Ruckman Rhys Stanley was named in the side but remains in some doubt with a foot sprain suffered in last week’s loss to Carlton.