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Three First-Gamers For Geelong

Cats selection news...

Three First-Gamers For Geelong Getty Images

Geelong will take three first-gamers into Sunday's big clash with Melbourne and coach Chris Scott insists they have earned their spots purely on merit.

Athletic tall Esava Ratugolea, mature-age recruit Tim Kelly and Lachie Fogarty will make their senior debuts at the MCG against the Demons.

"Everyone who seems to be watching footy seems to agree that Melbourne are going to be very hard to beat this year," Scott said on Friday.

"They seem very optimistic about their prospects.

"The fact that we're taking three first-gamers in is a reflection of how well they have done throughout the pre-season.

"It's not as if we're short of options.

"We've got guys who are in good form who have missed out.

"This is not about planning for the future - this is about our best team for Sunday."

Impressive first-year midfielder Charlie Constable also went "excruciatingly close" to gaining a spot in the Cats' line-up.

"We've got four or five guys who'll be very disappointed they missed the best 22 and Charlie is well and truly one of them," Scott said.

As expected, Gary Ablett was declared fit to play the first game of his second stint at the Cattery but he'll have to wait at least one more week before linking up with Patrick Dangerfield.

The Cats chose to take no risks with the 2016 Brownlow Medallist, who suffered a minor hamstring strain in the final round of pre-season games. 

"Patty feels as if he could have played but it's a more complicated decision than that," Scott said. 

"There is every chance that we might look back at the work he does on Sunday and think it was a mistake not to play him. 

"But that conservative mistake is a much better one in our mind than the aggressive mistake with a long season ahead of us." 

Dangerfield is expected to return for the traditional Easter Monday clash against arch-rivals Hawthorn.

AAP

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