Henderson in the mix to take on Hawks

Henderson in the mix to take on Hawks

Geelong coach Chris Scott would have no concerns about taking a towering defensive unit into Friday night’s blockbuster AFL qualifying final against Hawthorn at the MCG.

Cats’ key backman Lachie Henderson faces a race against time to prove he has fully recovered from knee surgery, having missed the last-start demolition job on Melbourne.

“We’re optimistic and there’s still a little bit of time,” Scott said on Tuesday.

“We’ll give him every chance but I’ve said publicly already that we don’t have any real interest in putting him out there unless we’re absolutely certain he can perform.

“We’re pretty confident that we’ve got good options to replace him, so at this early stage of a finals series it would be crazy to go in wondering if he’s OK.”

The 196cm Henderson played alongside fellow talls Harry Taylor, Tom Lonergan, Jake Kolodjashnij and the versatile Andrew Mackie in the most recent outing between the two modern-day powerhouses back in round one, when the Cats stormed home to win by 30 points.

In the season-long enforced absence of Jarryd Roughead, the Hawks have got great returns from smaller forwards Cyril Rioli, Paul Puopolo and Luke Bruest.

The dynamic trio have combined for 125 goals in 2016, providing the perfect foils for Jack Gunston (48).

“I don’t think that round one is going to be a huge pointer to what we see on Friday night but if you did look back for a second, we did play a pretty tall defensive group against their smalls,” said Scott.

“Their smalls did hurt us a little bit, particularly in that third quarter, but for the most part of the game our tall defenders looked mobile enough to handle their group.”

Scott Selwood (hamstring) is likely to return for Friday night’s clash where he could be handed the key negating job on Hawthorn prime mover Sam Mitchell.

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