GEELONG is weighing up whether midfielder Mathew Stokes will return from injury this week against Greater Western Sydney or whether to delay his comeback until after the bye.
Coach Chris Scott said on Tuesday that Stokes was a chance to play against the Giants but would not confirm the midfielder’s selection.
The 29-year-old – who has been one of Geelong's best performers this season –has missed the past three weeks due to an ankle injury suffered against Gold Coast in round 14.
"He has moved quite well. We still have a couple of sessions this week where we will make an assessment on him. We are not going to take a risk obviously with 'Stokesy', given that we have the bye next week - so if he plays he is well and truly ready," Scott said.
"A big part of the decision this week will be around the best preparation for him for the week after the bye."
The Cats are a game clear of fifth-placed Port Adelaide but have a much weaker percentage than any of the other top five teams.
They have a chance to boost that percentage against the 15th placed Giants – who have a relatively good record at home this season – before a tough run home with games against Fremantle, Hawthorn, Carlton and North Melbourne to determine whether they make the top four.
However Scott was more concerned with finding a settled side with players fit and in good form heading into the finals.
The coach said increased maturity and consistency of Geelong’s third, fourth and fifth-year players helped, as well as the clean bill of health for Tom Hawkins, who battled back problems in 2013.
The Cats – who had just one player play every game in their 2011 premiership season – have had seven players play every game this season, including veteran Jimmy Bartel, Hawkins and Joel Selwood. It has also had four players miss just one game.
"We are a little bit more stable in the way that we set up and I think we will be more stable again in another month and hopefully that's going to contribute to some good form," Scott said.
He also credited the availability of ruckmen Hamish McIntosh and Dawson Simpson as factors in keeping the team stable, while the inclusion of Shane Kersten up forward has also helped.
Scott said he was still considering playing both McIntosh and Simpson against the Giants, alongside the ever-improving Mark Blicavs, despite all three not playing together since the Swans thrashed Geelong in round 11.
It was not something Scott said he had considered viable at the start of the season - however he has changed his tune.
"I know we have gone away from it in the previous four or five weeks, but it is something we are seriously considering going back to," Scott said.
McIntosh was in good form against Melbourne last week. Blicavs has been good since the game against Essendon and Simpson – despite a minor back issue in the VFL last week – was playing well enough to be considered again.
Scott said Jarrad Jansen was under consideration to make his debut soon although he faced serious consideration for spots.
"Jansen is in our minds," Scott said. "I wouldn't say he is in front of [Darcy] Lang, or [Jesse] Stringer or [Jackson] Sheringham, but he is in our mix."