GEELONG forward Luke Dahlhaus remains on restricted duties with a groin injury as he races the clock to be fit for round one.
Dahlhaus is yet to join the main group this pre-season but has steadily increased his fitness base in recent weeks while receiving ongoing treatment for the setback that flared late in 2020.
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It is hoped the 28-year-old will soon return to full running but won't be rushed ahead of the season opener against Adelaide on March 20.
Dahlhaus has been consulted by former Crows medical boss Steve Saunders, who has also spent extensive time with Cats Patrick Dangerfield for his own groin injury.
Based in South Australia, Saunders has seen Dangerfield up to four times a week in Adelaide over the past month, while also visiting Geelong for treatment on Dahlhaus.
Dangerfield has recently ramped up his running sessions with the Cats confident he'll be fit to tackle the Crows in seven weeks' time despite a heavily interrupted summer.
Gun recruit Jeremy Cameron has returned to running after suffering a minor hamstring strain last week and is still expected to be ready for the Cats' AAMI Community Series match.
Dahlhaus' possible delayed start to the season, coupled with Gary Ablett's retirement, could open the door for the Cats' fringe small forwards.
Quinton Narkle, Brad Close and the uncapped Francis Evans are pushing for opportunity after being overlooked in last year's finals series.
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Veteran signing Shaun Higgins is expected to slot in, while Tom Atkins has been training as a defender post-Christmas and Sam Simpson is recovering from post-season shoulder surgery and will be touch-and-go for round one.
The Cats have also added former Fremantle head physio Jeff Boyle to their medical team after he departed the Dockers following 26 years of service last year.
Boyle has landed at the Cats after working alongside coach Chris Scott and head of football Simon Lloyd at the Dockers, with the Cats farewelling physios Mark Young and Hamish Macauley at the end of last season.
Doctors Kendall Brooks and David Long have also replaced long-serving pair Geoff Allen (16 years) and Drew Slimmon (10 years).