GEELONG midfielder Josh Cowan's long-awaited return from injury has lasted less than a quarter after he was subbed out of Friday night's clash with Collingwood.

Cowan injured his right hamstring during the early stages of the match, and he was quickly replaced by Nakia Cockatoo.

Cowan last played for the Cats in round 18, 2011 before a series of Achilles and hamstring injuries derailed his career.

Many Geelong teammates went to show their support to the 24-year-old at quarter-time while he sat on the interchange bench with his red vest on, having been made aware of the cruel blow.

He had gathered four disposals and helped set up a goal to Steven Motlop before his night came to an early end.

It was the only sour point to a brilliant first half for the Cats, who kicked 11 goals to Collingwood's two at the main break.

Cowan was selected with pick No.56 in the 2009 NAB AFL Draft and made his debut in 2011.