Dangerfield injury puts heat on Ablett
GARY Ablett's return has gone from fairytale story to a matter of urgency for Geelong in the wake of Patrick Dangerfield's hamstring injury.
Dangerfield is unlikely to feature in the Cats' season-opener against Melbourne after tweaking his hamstring early in the JLT Series clash against Essendon in Colac.
The Brownlow Medallist will have scans on Monday after assistant coach Corey Enright confirming Dangerfield experienced tightness as he went to kick the ball late in the first quarter.
"There was tightness in the hamstring and he got pulled from the game," Enright said after the Cats' four-point loss.
"Probably the next couple of days are the most important days, that's when we'll get more information around it.
"It's very early to tell too much and how significant it is, but obviously there is something there. We need to get the scans and talk to the medicos and see where it lands."
It's the first time Dangerfield has suffered a hamstring injury in his 202-game career.
Ablett is recovering from his own hamstring strain but remains confident he'll be ready for Round 1 against the Demons.
The Cats' boom recruit trained Sunday morning and Enright expects him to step up the intensity over the coming few days.
"He trained today with the guys who weren't playing at all today," Enright said.
"In terms of where he is at, he's tracking really well, he's done a few running sessions now and his preparation is going really well.
"It's really hard to say (about Round 1) at this stage as there is still a couple of weeks to go.
"All I know is that he is the ultimate professional and he's going to give himself the best chance. There is obviously a fair bit of time to come between now and then, we'd certainly like him out there."
Dangerfield had been the most influential player on the ground in his first hitout of the pre-season, gathering 12 disposals before limping off the ground.
The Cats also lost ruckman Rhys Stanley early in the game with a calf injury.
Midfielder Sam Menegola, who was a late withdrawal after pulling up sore from training, is Dangerfield's logical replacement.
After a disappointing display against the Gold Coast Suns in Townsville, the Cats were a lot better in JLT2 led by five goals from spearhead Tom Hawkins.
"We got what we wanted to get out of the game," Enright said. "It was a much improved effort from last week when we played Suns up in Townsville.
"I thought the inexperienced guys again showed something."
Enright hinted that mature-aged draftee Tim Kelly was likely to make his debut against the Demons.
"He has been impressive ever since he has come in," he said. "He's obviously had two really good performances now, he's taken his chances and is no doubt in the selection frame."
Essendon coach John Worsfold was much happier with his team, which had been humiliated by Richmond in its first JLT game.
"There were a few factors around that whole game that we were disappointed in but we weren't concerned about," Worsfold said.
"We knew a lot of that stuff was going to right itself with just basically having a chat to the players.
"To their credit they are really keen to learn and keep attacking the game the way we want to play.
"They went a little bit overboard worrying about that (last week) rather than letting it unfold and they addressed that today really well."
Defender Martin Gleeson is the Bombers' major injury concern after he was carried off in the last quarter with an ankle injury.
Midfielder David Zaharakis and defender Michael Hurley both finished the game on interchange nursing knocks.