JIMMY Bartel is a certain starter for Geelong's crucial clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.

Bartel made his return through the VFL last weekend, his first game since injuring the medial ligament in his left knee against Gold Coast in round three.

Cats coach Chris Scott also declared James Kelly, who suffered a high ankle sprain against Port Adelaide in round 11, as probable for the showdown with the Roos.

"He's missed a lot of footy but he was exceptionally good in the VFL last week, so that's hopefully a pointer to what we'll see on Saturday night," Scott said of Bartel.

"But we've played virtually the whole season without him. Hopefully he'll come in and add something rather than be the player that we build our whole game around."

The Brownlow medallist starred in the VFL at the weekend, gathering a match-high 28 touches, seven clearances, six tackles and five marks in a 48-point loss to the Casey Scorpions.

By the time Saturday night rolls around, Geelong will have had a 20-day break since its last game, against Melbourne in round 12.

Following the shock loss to the Demons, the Cats had a bye, and then last weekend's clash against Adelaide was cancelled – the points shared – due to the tragic passing of Crows coach Phil Walsh.

Scott said the club would do everything it possibly could to guard against sluggishness in the early stages of the game.

"If you look back over our year, the numbers certainly show that off short breaks, we've been good and off longer breaks, we haven't been so good," Scott said.

"The coaching staff have a responsibility to assess it but I don't think we need to plant that seed in the mind of our players. 

"I've got respect for their football intellect and they understand what we're walking into on Saturday night."

Scott added the match committee was still assessing its options before committing to bringing ruckman Dawson Simpson back into the side.

"The challenge of (North ruckman Todd) Goldstein is that we are thinking of that position, even more than we otherwise would," Scott said.

Young midfielder Jarrad Jansen is a chance to make his debut and will be named in the Cats' squad, while Darcy Lang (quad) is also a chance to play.