Star trio of Cats target season opener for return from injury

GEELONG coach Paul Hood says stars Melissa Hickey, Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell are on track for round one, despite the trio being held out of this weekend's practice match against the Western Bulldogs.

AFLW clubs have one official practice match, with round one kicking off on February 7.

Skipper Hickey, 35, told reporters on Thursday she has a management plan for her right knee, which was reconstructed in 2012.

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She doesn't have any issues with her more recently reconstructed left knee.

Morrison was selected by the Cats with the No.1 pick in the 2018 NAB AFLW Draft and was named best on ground in round one of 2019 before rupturing her ACL.

Young teammate Purcell – who finished second in Geelong's best and fairest at just 18 – is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Olivia Purcell in action against GWS last season. Picture: Getty Images

If the three players return, they will take on Fremantle in round one at Fremantle Oval.

There are question marks over the hardness of the field after it hosted Falls Festival on January 4 and 5, with the Dockers unable to use the ground until match-day.

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It puts an asterisk on Morrison's return in particular, given her age, injury and how valuable she is to the team, but the "off-Broadway" nature of the match – with less pressure on the young star than playing at home – also appeals.

"She's coming back from the ACL, but her preparation's always been set for round one," Hood said.

"She's done a power of work in her rehab and looks as well as a player could possibly look, but she's due to land in round one rather than the practice match."

Hood also detailed the long rehabilitation defender Anna Teague (pictured below) has undergone after suffering a concussion in a VFLW match on August 24.

"[Teague] has just started full contact training in the last few weeks, she looked sparkling last night. She needs to put a few more of those sessions together, but she's tracking well," Hood said.

"From the concussion, we just took our time putting her into full contact. All of that's been passed off, all clear, and she's recovered really, really well, we just need to get enough contact sessions into Anna before she's right to play.

"No cause for alarm, but her timeline has been geared for round one rather than the practice match."

Draftee Mia Skinner is rehabbing a leg injury, while Gemma Wright recently took some time away from the club for personal reasons, and so is a little way back in her preparation.