GEELONG midfielder Mitch Duncan is highly unlikely to return in time for next week's crucial semi-final clash with reigning premiers West Coast, having suffered medial ligament damage to his knee during his side's narrow 10-point loss to Collingwood on Friday night.
The injury comes as Cats coach Chris Scott lamented his side's unforced late change, which saw ruckman Rhys Stanley dropped from the selected side just 90 minutes before the game.
Duncan left the field with ice on his knee just prior to half-time and was one of a number of injury issues Geelong suffered on Friday night. Jed Bews rolled his ankle during the warm-up, while Gary Rohan grabbed at his hamstring late in the match.
Speaking after the game, Scott said Duncan was unlikely to return to face the Eagles.
"It's a medial ligament injury," Scott said.
"It looks very unlikely that he'll play next week. The extent of it after that, I'm not sure."
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With rain hovering over the MCG in the hours prior to the match, Geelong made a late change, replacing ruckman Stanley with midfielder Sam Menegola.
It left the Cats light on options to tackle dual All Australian Brodie Grundy, with defender Mark Blicavs and forward Esava Ratugolea handling the bulk of the responsibilities.
Defender Mark Blicavs was left to compete with Brodie Grundy after Rhys Stanley's withdrawal.
Ultimately, Geelong was left to rue the decision, with the rain clearing before the game and leaving Scott with plenty to ponder ahead of next week's bout with Nic Naitanui.
"If we knew it was going to be perfect conditions, we probably would've played the team that we picked, but we thought it was going to be more slippery," Scott said.
"There was an argument either way anyway. But, on balance, in my opinion – and I'm one of six or seven people who have a say in it – I think over the next 24 hours my assessment will be 'we probably should have played him'. But that won’t be unanimous."
Scott spent much of the lead-up to the game engaged in a running dispute over where Geelong should play its finals, with the Cats angling to play them at GMHBA Stadium.
Quizzed over whether he would again push for next week's semi-final against West Coast to be played at its home base, a prickly Scott was terse in his reply about the club's position.
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"You could not be clearer on my position and our club's position," Scott said.
"You couldn't be clearer, could you? Our club is not running away from that, but we've said our piece. At some point, our club needs to stand up for ourselves, which we've done.
"I've said my piece, it's clear and I'm not going to say it again so you can beat it up."