Thursday, March 27
Geelong Advertiser _ Scott Morton

GEELONG is almost certain to name young tall forward Matthew McCarthy for its season opener against the Western Bulldogs this Sunday at Telstra Dome.

The 21-year-old was given a taste of senior football in the Wizard Cup this year and impressed the Cats' coaching staff.

``He's certainly one that is in the mix,'' coach Mark Thompson said.

``He's had four games in the seniors and he really surprised us in the first Wizard Cup game against the Bulldogs.

``He's shown that he will definitely play this year and pushed his case for round one more than we thought three or four weeks ago.''

At 197cm McCarthy gives Geelong another forward focus, in addition to Cameron Mooney and Kent Kingsley.

``He's a pack marker, he flies and always competes and brings the ball down and brings other people into the game,'' Thompson said.

``It's something we haven't really got. Cameron is more of a leading forward and so is Kent whereas Matt is a bit of a jumper.''

The Cats have virtually a full list to choose from, with only first year player Tim Callan unavailable due to tendonitis of the knee.

Gary Ablett wasn't on the track training but football manager Garry Davidson said he would be available.

Thompson said David Clarke was pressing for selection after an interrupted preseason with an achilles injury and that David Spriggs was set to play his first AFL game in more than a year after a knee reconstruction.

``We'd probably pick (Clarke) on what he's done in the past and he's very close to getting a game,'' Thompson said.

``Spriggs will be a bonus because he's coming into his fourth year and it looks like he's picked up where he left off.

``He'll play on the weekend, which is a great achievement.''

Thompson said he wouldn't be taking much from the Cats' 59-point win against the Bulldogs in the first Wizard Cup game.

``We had a good day that day but that doesn't mean much for this weekend when we meet again,'' he said.

``You're always unsure going into the first game but we would dearly like to have a win and dearly like to show our supporters out there that we're going to be a reasonable side and that it would be worthwhile coming along to watch.''

Meanwhile, Geelong's VFL side will take on Werribee in a practice match at Skilled Stadium on Saturday with the game set to start at 2pm.