GEELONG utility Mark Blicavs is "a star" with improvement left in him according to Cats coach Chris Scott.
The 24-year-old will play his 50th game for Geelong on Saturday in his just his third season after leaving behind athletics to return to football in 2012.
Blicavs has missed just four games since making his debut in round one, 2012 despite having left football behind at the age of 12 to concentrate on an athletics career that saw him close to representing Australia at the London Olympics in the steeplechase.
Scott said he remembered telling Blicavs at their first meeting that realistically the youngster would be a couple of years from playing senior football if he joined the Cats.
Blicavs' chances of reeling off 50 of the next 54 games in the seniors did not enter the coach’s mind.
"I thought it was very, very unlikely," Scott said.
However Blicavs has defied that conventional wisdom to reach the milestone ahead of schedule.
"His willingness to learn and his application to life as a professional footballer is second to none in my experience, and that is across my experience as a player as well," Scott said.
"He is a star."
Blicavs’ emergence has been one obvious bonus for the Cats as they endure a tough start to the season with just one win from four games.
The rough beginning has prompted CEO Brian Cook to exhort Cats fans to stick with the club.
Scott said inconsistency was the main issue, with patches of good football within games being followed by ordinary periods.
The coach said the Cats’ challenge was to stick together when things weren't going perfectly.
He said the they would name veteran defender Tom Lonergan to play against Richmond but would wait and see whether the veteran was right to go after suffering concussion against Gold Coast in round three.
However Andrew Mackie (quad) and Mathew Stokes (Achilles) would miss another week at least.
The Cats are considering Dean Gore and Jake Kolodjashnij as possible inclusions in the squad of 25 and have been heartened by the form and fitness of classy defender/midfielder Josh Cowan who has had a terrible run with injury.
Scott said the Cats were still considering starting their more experienced players as substitutes on occasion, as they did with Steve Johnson against North Melbourne.
Scott said the circumstances and opposition would determine such a decision.
He said Johnson was not given the sub’s vest as a punishment for poor form, but the way the 31-year-old had responded was pleasing.
"It wasn't done in order to generate a response from him," Scott said.
"It was just the best thing in our opinion for that game. I think he responded with the way he played and the way he approached the game on Sunday, which was in a very very positive manner."