Geelong may put Nakia Cockatoo on ice until next year's pre-season, with the club weighing up whether they would be better off delaying an attempted return until 2020.
The 22-year-old reported hamstring tightness after playing a half against Port Melbourne in the VFL a fortnight ago in his first game in more than 12 months, and missed the following VFL game against North Melbourne.
Although he has trained well this week, the club is deciding whether it is worth risking him in the state league if he is no chance of playing AFL in 2019.
Geelong coach Chris Scott said while the club remained uncertain about his short-term prospects they were more positive about his long term future than they may have been at the start of the season.
However they did not want to potentially jeopardise 2020 by trying to get him back for this year's finals.
"Are we getting to the point whether we decide the risks short term are too great," Scott asked.
"It's just a matter of weighing the risk of playing a couple of games at the end of the year and potentially compromising a really good pre-season and his long-term future."
The Cats rate Cockatoo highly, and because of his potential X-factor had been open to playing him in the finals if he was fit and available.
Scott said Cockatoo was 95 per cent right, but they were not prepared to play him this time around unless he was 100 per cent fit.
Meanwhile, the Cats expect Mark O'Connor to be available after a turf toe problem kept him sidelined for the past two games, while Jordan Clark is three weeks away from being considered for selection after suffering an elbow injury last Wednesday.
The Cats expect Clark to be touch and go for the first final, however he will play again this season, with the Cats all but certain to play at least two finals.
"The injury is not as bad as we first thought," Scott said.
"We would like to see him back in full training for at least a week before we would consider bringing him back into the team.
"It's not ideal timing for Jordan but it could be worse."
Gary Rohan may return via the VFL in the pre-finals bye, having suffered an ankle injury in round 20.
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