RETURN OF KING
GEELONG coach Mark Thompson denies the Cats are gambling on the fitness of skipper Steven King, who will line up against ladder leader West Coast despite failing to train today at Skilled Stadium.
King, who has missed the past two matches with a broken finger, will wear a protective guard tomorrow.
King last played against Essendon, in round 18, when he was thought likely to be sidelined for up to six weeks.
His presence against likely All Australian ruckman Dean Cox is all the more important for the Cats as ruck-forward Brad Ottens is out for the season with a groin injury.
"We wouldn't play (King) if we thought we were going to do him damage," Thompson said.
"We wouldn't play him unless he was right. He wants to play and doctors said it's OK to play.
"His hand has been repaired and he's going to wear a guard, and he did some marking and ruck work yesterday, and we've got the approval to play him."
Geelong will also be bolstered by the return of Tom Harley, who makes his long-awaited comeback from a hip injury, forward Paul Chapman (hamstring) and back-up ruckman Paul Chambers (knee soreness).
West Coast has not defeated Geelong at Skilled Stadium since 1999, with the last meeting between the two sides at the venue, in 2003, was a draw.
Rain is forecast but the Eagles don't expect the conditions to affect their hard-running game.
"During the year we've had a few wet games, the boys have responded very well and they've played some good football," assistant coach Robert Wiley said.
"We are ready for any conditions and we know that Geelong are going to come out fighting very hard and we've got to make sure that we can match it."
Young Eagle Ashley Hansen is no certainty of playing, despite being named at centre half-forward as he attempts to shrug off a persistent thigh injury.
Hansen, 22, has not played since round 15.
After four weeks on the sidelines, ruck-forward Michael Gardiner is expected to make his comeback from a foot injury for Claremont in the WAFL this weekend.
"He has not got the match fitness, but the one thing Michael Gardiner has got is natural athleticism and the ability to come back off after a long layoff," Wiley said.
"The way Michael (Gardiner) responds to that, it won't take him long to play some good football."