GEELONG youngster Jackson Thurlow has returned to contact work at training as he makes a good recovery from a lacerated kidney that put him in hospital in December.
Thurlow, who turns 21 on Saturday, spent several days in hospital before Christmas and then returned home to Tasmania to recuperate.
He came back to the club in early February and has stepped up his training program since, with the club planning to ease him back into the fray via the VFL.
Thurlow has played 10 games since being the club's first selection (No.16) in the 2012 NAB AFL Draft.
Club physiotherapist Mark Young told CatsTV it was pleasing for Geelong to see Thurlow back in time for the start of the season.
"That was a nervous time for Jackson. It was an innocuous incident but it caused some significant damage to his kidney," Young said.
"He had been working hard but he is back on the track joining in contact work and hopefully won't be too far away."
Another medium-sized defender selected in the first round of the draft, Billie Smedts, will need to undergo a test after missing the Cats' final NAB Challenge game against Carlton due to back soreness.
The Cats remain hopeful that Smedts, 22, will be available for selection.
"[He was] just unlucky. Billie has had an incredible pre-season, got tackled in an awkward position and came up sore on his back. That is settling nicely," Young said.
The club is also pleased with the progress that Daniel Menzel is making as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained a fortnight ago.
"We don't think it will slow him down very much," Young said.
The Cats confirmed Mitch Clark's thumb had healed after he appeared to hurt it during the NAB Challenge game against Carlton.