As Geelong midfielder Brandon Parfitt was ruled out for the rest of the year, another Cat, whose season was assumed to be over, Tom Stewart made a tantalising return to training.
Stewart returned to straight line running and kicking the ball in training on Sunday, as he continues to rehabilitate from a Lisfranc ligament injury in his foot that required surgery.
While it would still appear highly unlikely the All-Australian defender could make a return this year if the Cats got through the preliminary final and into a grand final two weeks later, presently they are not prepared to completely rule him out.
Stewart’s long-term future is the priority as coach Chris Scott has previously said and football manager Simon Lloyd reiterated on Monday, but the sight of Stewart back in training was encouraging for the spirits of the Cats players and officials currently in Perth.
“We will entertain it when we need to entertain it,” Lloyd said of Stewart’s possible surprise availability should the Cats prevail in the preliminary final.
“He has commenced running and kicking, running in straight lines, and he pulled up well, but he still needs to tick off a lot of areas – change of direction, aerial work, speed – before going further and, at this point in time, as we sit here, we don’t need to make that decision.
“It will be a medical-based decision on what happens with Tom next, not a football one, and it will be with Tom’s long-term health in mind.
“So while he has started running that is just part of his rehabilitation program, he is not ahead of it, he has not been accelerated, he is still on the time line we set out from the start.”