Jimmy Bartel of the Cats gathers the ball during the 2011 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 1, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia.
Jimmy Bartel of the Cats gathers the ball during the 2011 AFL Grand Final match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 1, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. Mark Dadswell - Getty Images

Focus on Cats to claw back

GEELONG comes into tonight's grand final replay against Collingwood at the MCG under extreme scrutiny.

The question many of the 85,000 fans expected to turn up will be asking is: "Has Geelong's premiership window finally closed?"

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley, forced to publicly deny allegations of a rift between himself and senior players after early-season losses to Hawthorn and Carlton, must have had a wry smile this week after Geelong 200-gamer James Kelly had to deny suggestions his coach Chris Scott faced that same situation.

The Cats haven't won a contested possession count this season, a repeat tonight almost certain to see them go home empty handed.

After being smashed by Adelaide last week, Scott has recalled stars Jimmy Bartel, Matthew Scarlett and Matthew Stokes, with Allen Christensen the main loss.

Collingwood has lost defender Nathan Brown for up to four weeks with a knee injury but has regained premiership players Darren Jolly, Chris Dawes and Dale Thomas.

Meanwhile, the Brisbane Lions have named an extended seven-man bench for Sunday's clash against GWS at the Gabba.

Vice-captain Jed Adcock will return to the Lions line-up after missing last week with a minor groin complaint.

He will be joined by utility Ryan Lester who also sat out the Collingwood game with general soreness.

Irishman Pearce Hanley, subbed off at halftime against the Pies with hamstring trouble, has been named on the wing but must be in some doubt.

Youngsters Rohan Bewick, Niall McKeever, Dayne Zorko, Josh Green, James Hawksley, Jared Polec and Ryan Harwood have all been named on the bench.

The final 22 will be named tonight.


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