GEELONG coach Chris Scott says Gary Rohan is all but certain to make his long-awaited return from injury in the clash with Port Adelaide.
Rohan has been out of action after a sciatica issue in his back and hip hampered his summer program and kept him sidelined through the early stages of this season.
The 30-year-old has not played at senior level since last year's preliminary final defeat to eventual premier Melbourne.
But he has progressed through a "mini pre-season" program and shown enough form and fitness in two VFL games this month.
Scott said Rohan is on track to play at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday, with the Cats (5-4) looking to bounce back against Port Adelaide after suffering a 10-point defeat to St Kilda.
"We will see how he goes over the next few days but he doesn't need to do anything special over the next few days to be available," Scott told reporters on Wednesday.
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"The plan, given there was a VFL bye last week, was to have him ready to play last week, knowing there was a bit of a buffer there.
"He did a training load, which was in excess of his game load the previous couple of weeks.
"I'm pretty sure he's going to play."
Rohan has been used predominantly in attack by Geelong but will also use his speed through the midfield on his return.
"It's not a bad example of the autonomy we try to give our players," Scott said.
"We don't think we live in a world now where the coaches need to pull the puppet strings from the coaches' box.
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"We get so much time to work with players who are really coachable that we'd like to think they understand the sort of things that we're going after.
"Then, they have enough autonomy to make those decisions on-field."
Jed Bews is also set to return against Port after missing one match through concussion, while Rhys Stanley is expected to be available despite re-injuring his ankle.