Geelong are on the verge of unleashing Mitch Clark against Sydney in Friday night’s blockbuster match-up between the two powerhouse AFL teams.
The luckless forward played eight games for the Cats last year after resuming his AFL career but was struck down by a serious calf injury in round nine and suffered a setback with the same issue in February that has kept him sidelined this season.
Clark, who has also fought a public battle with a mental health issue, has largely impressed in four games back at VFL level and a faultless block of training over the bye has him primed for a return to the big stage.
“He’s available,” coach Chris Scott told reporters on Monday.
“We just need to make a decision as to whether that’s the best thing for the team in the longer term.
“So we’ve got eight weeks before we play finals if we’re good enough and the priority is really making sure that he’s at his best towards that period.
“It’s a hard one to forecast. Mitch has missed a lot of footy, he missed a lot of footy before he came to us, but the indications in the last six weeks are that he’s feeling good, he’s got confidence in his body and really he’s fitter than he was when he played AFL footy for us last year.”
Clark has played 105 AFL games in total, including stints with Brisbane and Melbourne, before he signed with Geelong after sitting out the 2014 season.
In more encouraging news for the Cats, Scott said Nakia Cockatoo and Scott Selwood are also closing on AFL selection after injury absences, with Selwood to play his first game in the VFL this week.
Friday night’s highly-anticipated encounter at Simonds Stadium will pit the second-placed Cats against the fourth-placed Swans in a match that will help shape the congested race for a top-four berth.
Geelong were accused of having an attitude problem after they suffered a shock defeat to St Kilda before the bye – their third loss of the season to a side outside the eight.
Scott isn’t so sure that’s the case, but added there was little chance his side would take Sydney lightly.
“It’s folly to completely ignore the subconscious but I don’t think there will be any part or anyone at our football club who will be thinking that the Swans will be a pushover,” he said.
“If that helps our mental state then great.”