GEELONG is preparing to dig its heels in and retain contracted midfielder Tim Kelly despite his request to move back home to West Coast this week.
Cats list boss Stephen Wells said the Cats were ready to welcome back Kelly to 2019 pre-season training if the Eagles weren't able to negotiate a suitable trade.
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Although there is interest from both WA clubs, Kelly has his sights set on playing for the reigning premiers next season.
"Tim has asked that, if possible, that he could back to WA," Wells told AFL.com.au on Friday.
"Tim clearly understands that he's a contracted player for 2019 and if there's no trade, he'll be back joining pre-season and getting stuck into for next year again."
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Wells refused to buy into whether Kelly was worth a first-round pick or two second-round picks, having been selected at No.24 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.
"We are fully expecting Tim to come back and play with the Cats next year," Wells said.
"We see no reason why Tim wouldn't be playing with us again next year."
AFL.com.au understands Kelly flagged the potential of a move in his exit meeting in early September before this week again informing the Cats of his request to become an Eagle.
After finishing equal second in Thursday night's best and fairest, the 24-year-old failed to buy into his future at the club in his acceptance speech despite cries of "stay" from the crowd.
Geelong offered Kelly an extension in the 2018 pre-season before he had played a game, however he decided to put off contract talks as he contemplated a move home.
Cats chief executive Brian Cook had initially said during the season the club wouldn't trade Kelly under any circumstances before it relaxed its stance, given Kelly's family is his No.1 priority.
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Leaving partner Caitlin and their eldest boy Tykeem at home to start pre-season in November, Kelly returned to Perth in December as the couple welcomed twins.
Caitlin and the three boys then moved to Geelong in February, before Kelly made his AFL debut in March, going onto play all 23 games for the season.
Such was the importance of family to Kelly, he missed a training session in the week of Geelong's elimination final loss to Melbourne to look after his kids as they fell ill.
"Tim is proud to be involved with the Geelong Football Club," Kelly's agent Anthony Van Der Wielen told AFL.com.au.
"He loves the players, the coaches, the staff and the supporters of the club.
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"It's no secret to those who are close to Tim and Caitlin that living so far away from home with a young family and without the daily support of close friends and family hasn't been easy.
"The club have been exceptional in their efforts to make Tim and his family as comfortable as possible.
"Tim's said himself that if he could pick the Geelong Football Club up and take them to Perth, he'd never leave."
Last year the Eagles engaged in a pick swap with Gold Coast, passing up their future first-round pick (2018) for three second-round picks and a future second-round pick in order to secure try and secure Kelly.
However, the Cats swooped early, taking Kelly with pick 24 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft.
Now 12 months on, the Eagles are set to engage in trade talks with Kelly as to how they get the deal done.
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West Coast's first pick currently stands at pick 20, however it is set to acquire pick 19 as compensation for losing free agent Scott Lycett to Port Adelaide.
The Eagles could also be armed with another end-of-first-round pick should Andrew Gaff depart for North Melbourne.