CHRIS Scott has fiercely defended Geelong's medical team for its decision to allow Tom Stewart to push for a Grand Final return in the wake of criticism from medico Dr Peter Larkins.

Larkins described the Cats as "delusional" on social media last week for considering having their star defender return for the Toyota AFL Grand Final – should they make it that far. 

Stewart returned to straight-line running and kicking drills on Sunday, less than three weeks after surgery to repair Lisfranc ligament damage in his foot.

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The three-time Therabody AFL All-Australian has already been ruled out of Friday night's preliminary final against Melbourne but remains a chance should the Cats progress to the decider, less than six weeks post operation.

Geelong's Tom Stewart in action against North Melbourne in round five on April 18, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

"Tom is on a program that was laid out by the very best medical experts and anyone who questions that, especially when they're a level below that expertise, doesn't really know what they're talking about," Scott said on Wednesday.

"He's following a plan that was laid out right from the start and he just keeps ticking off those days. If he makes it, he makes it; if he doesn't, he doesn't. There's not going to be much room for grey there.

"We're confident we have the very best people in Australia certainly, maybe even the world who are across this.

"Someone in the medical profession who hasn't had the opportunity to look at the situation in detail, throwing haymakers like that from the cheap seats I think is highly unprofessional.

"But maybe he (Larkins) doesn't consider his role in the game now to be one of a medical profession first, maybe he's an entertainer."

The Cats will be forced into one change for the clash against Melbourne at Optus Stadium with Brandan Parfitt (hamstring) set to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the year.

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Scott gave little away as to who was in line to replace the midfielder, however the call will be down to Quinton Narkle, Sam Simpson, Zach Guthrie, Luke Dahlhaus or Shaun Higgins.

The coach, who enters his seventh preliminary final in his 11th year in the job, also backed Rhys Stanley to do a job opposed to Melbourne captain Max Gawn in the ruck.

Stanley impressed in the first three quarters against Gawn in round 23 before Gawn led the Demons to a stirring come-from-behind win with a final term masterclass.

Dr Larkins has been contacted for comment.

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