Cats get midfield boost for Pies AFL clash

Repentant Geelong midfielder Mitch Duncan is keen to repay the Cats for his brain snap moment against Sydney that cost him a week on the sidelines.

Duncan returns to the line-up to face Collingwood at the MCG on Saturday after serving a one-match ban for striking Tom Papley.

The altercation cost his side a goal at a pivotal moment in the round 20 loss to the Swans and meant he was a frustrated observer as the undermanned Cats posted a gutsy win over Richmond.

“He was pretty disappointed with that,” Geelong midfield coach Matthew Knights told AAP.

“He’s usually a very disciplined player. I think it’s just one of those incidents that he’ll look at learn from pretty quickly.

“He really loves the team environment and he loves the Geelong footy club … there will be an element of him that will be wanting to give back to the group.”

Duncan is a welcome addition to a midfield unit still missing skipper Joel Selwood, who is tentatively slated to return to full training after ankle surgery in the bye round.

Duncan was included in the side along with forward Wylie Buzza, while Rhys Stanley (calf) and Brandan Parfitt (omitted) departed.

Nathan Buckley handed a much-anticipated AFL debut to Josh Daicos, son of Collingwood great Peter, but Jordan De Goey (hip), Tyson Goldsack (soreness) and Alex Fasolo (shoulder) dropped out of the side.

They joined Scott Pendlebury, Levi Greenwood, Daniel Wells and Will Hoskin-Elliott on a lengthy injury list, while star ruckman Brodie Grundy will sit for a second week as he serves a suspension.

The injury-depleted Pies are out of finals contention in 13th spot on the ladder, while the Cats are vying for a top-two finish.

But Buckley’s side has proved a tough nut for the Cats to crack in recent times, Chris Scott’s men losing their past three meetings.

“Even though they’ve had an indifferent season their best is very good,” Knights said.

“They’ve certainly played well against us in previous encounters.”

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