STEWART, Kelly, Atkins … Close? 

Rookie small forward Brad Close will push his case to become Geelong's fourth consecutive mature-age debutant in a season-opener when he faces Gold Coast on Saturday. 

The 21-year-old South Australian will be named in the Cats' Marsh Community Series line-up when squads are released on Thursday at 6.20pm AEDT.

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He'll be joined by second-year pair Ben Jarvis and Jacob Kennerley and the Cats' first pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft Cooper Stephens for the trip north.

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The Cats' squad is also expected to include champion Gary Ablett to face his former side after he was snubbed from Victorian State of Origin selection. 

Following the success of Tom Stewart (2017), Tim Kelly (2018) and Tom Atkins (2019) in securing round one debuts, the Cats are contemplating Close for the clash against Greater Western Sydney on March 21.

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A 181cm pressure forward from Glenelg, Close was taken at pick 14 in last year's Rookie Draft after a SANFL premiership in a season where he kicked 13 goals and average four tackles a match.

Close also impressed in match simulation against Collingwood at GMHBA Stadium last week playing as a permanent forward and has shown at SANFL level he can push onto a wing.

Stephens, who missed the bulk of his 2019 NAB League season with the Geelong Falcons due to a broken leg, was drafted as a ready-made inside midfielder. 

The 189cm Jarvis is set to play forward, as he did against the Pies, after a year split between attack and defence last year in the VFL.

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His fellow South Australian Kennerley will mount his case for a wing role given doubt around Mitch Duncan (hip) for round one.

Others who will miss the Suns' clash include Joel Selwood (hamstring), Jake Kolodjashnij (hip), Lachie Fogarty (ankle) and Jack Steven who is returning to full fitness after a calf setback