GEELONG is set to be boosted by the return of Jimmy Bartel, Tom Lonergan and Josh Caddy for its second NAB Challenge hit-out against Essendon in Shepparton on Saturday.
Bartel and Lonergan were rested ahead of the Cats' eight-point loss to Collingwood last Friday night.
Caddy was withdrawn from the squad because of a bout of gastro, but he has recovered and is ready to go against the Bombers.
The Cats will hold their final match committee meeting later on Wednesday before deciding on the makeup of the rest of the squad, according to backline coach Matthew Scarlett.
Geelong will be hoping the addition of the star trio will spark significant defensive improvements, after it allowed Collingwood to kick 11 goals in a disappointing lapse in the third quarter.
The Magpies went inside 50 on 46 occasions (Geelong had 49) on the night and were deadly efficient, kicking 21.5 from their 26 scoring shots.
"Our defenders didn't have a great night, but certainly they need help from the forwards and midfielders," Scarlett said.
"There'll be a couple of little things we'll tinker with this week but we're really confident that we'll fix that area up."
Scarlett spent a lot of time with recruit Lachie Henderson during the pre-season, teaching him about the role he will be required to fill in Geelong's defence.
The ex-Blue did not have his best night against the Magpies and was often left one-out forced to contend with Collingwood giants Mason Cox and Corey Gault.
Scarlett is confident Henderson will bounce back but stressed the club would need to be patient with his progression.
"Lachie was a little bit nervous before the game, but he got through OK and I think he'll play a little bit better this week," Scarlett said.
"He's got new teammates and a new system to learn.
"He's had a great pre-season and he'll help us enormously this year, but it's going to take a bit of time."
Henderson only spent 10 minutes out on the track, completing some work with the Cats' rehab group because of a corky before disappearing inside.
He will miss the Essendon clash.
Captain Joel Selwood also worked away from the main group, focusing on his marking and stoppage craft but Scarlett said the Cats are still confident he will be right for round one.
There was no sign of Mitch Clark who has suffered a setback on his troublesome calf, with Geelong unclear on his return date.
The club is also still waiting to make a determination on injured midfielder Sam Menegola.
The 23-year-old injured the meniscus in his knee against the Pies in the second quarter and was sent for scans during the week.
"He's still got some significant swelling so they're still not exactly sure on the exact diagnosis," Scarlett said.
"We're hoping it's better than first thought and he played pretty well before he got hurt, but he's in pretty good spirits and we'll find out in the next couple of days."