Geelong’s return of their prodigal AFL son has hit a setback, with confirmation that Gary Ablett suffered a hamstring strain at training.
Officially, the Cats say the injury is minor and he was never going to play in their first pre-season match, against his old club Gold Coast this Sunday in Townsville.
But given Ablett is 35 and his immense value to the Cats, they will take no risks with him for their second pre-season game.
Before last Thursday’s injury, the plan was that Ablett, Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield would play together for the first time in the March 11 match against Essendon in Colac.
Ablett had hamstring tightness last Thursday during match simulation and left the field immediately.
Scans on Monday confirmed the strain.
There are 18 days between Ablett’s injury and the Colac match.
Geelong pointed out that the two-time Brownlow Medallist had enjoyed a solid pre-season until the hamstring problem, meaning his fitness is not an issue.
For now, their plan remains for him to play against the Bombers, ahead of their round-one match against Melbourne on March 25 at the MCG.
There is massive excitement among the Geelong faithful about Ablett, who is back at the club after seven seasons with the Suns.
While he won his second Brownlow Medal at Gold Coast in 2013, his last four seasons have been plagued by persistent injuries.
Shoulder and knee troubles have meant Ablett has not played more than 15 games in a season since 2013.
But until last Thursday’s setback, Ablett and the Cats had been upbeat about his pre-season.
Ablett said last week that he had needed two shoulder reconstructions at Gold Coast and he had not suffered too many soft-tissue problems.
Ablett has played 302 games since 2002, 192 of them for Geelong.