Lance Franklin loads up for Cats clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lance Franklin loads up for Cats clash

By Guy Hand 10/06/2011 04:41:37 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn get back their best gun-slinger, but don't want a shootout against Geelong in their much-anticipated AFL clash on Saturday night.

Just in time for third-placed Hawthorn's latest test of their premiership credentials, superstar forward Lance Franklin will return from a calf injury for the match at the MCG.

Franklin will need a medical green light on match day, but Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson is confident he will be sending his goalkicking gun to the goalsquare.

But what Clarkson doesn't want is for the match to develop into a fast-flowing, high-scoring shootout, believing that would leave the Hawks riddled with holes.

"If it's a shootout tomorrow night, I reckon we'll be on the back end of another loss to the Cats," said Clarkson, whose side have lost all five meetings with Geelong since beating them in the 2008 grand final.

"I don't think you ever defeat Geelong when it's a 15 or 17-goal each sort of game.

"I don't reckon you get the Cats that way.

"We know full well if it's a shootout-type of game, that suits Geelong right down to the ground.

"If it's a bit more of a grind, it's back in our favour."

With a rivalry stretching back to the epic 1989 grand final the Hawks won by a goal, Clarkson not surprisingly expects the Cats to provide just as stiff a test as premiers Collingwood.

Unbeaten in 10 matches - including a win over Collingwood this season - Geelong top the ladder and the Hawks coach believes the Cats are worthy flag contenders.

"By definition of the games won, they are the benchmark," he said.

"The Cats and Collingwood, they're the two best sides in the competition and we get to see if we've bridged the gap a little bit."

The Hawks will be buoyed by Franklin's return, which will be rubber-stamped if he pulls up well from Friday's training session at Waverley Park.

"We expect he'll play ... he trained pretty solidly yesterday and pulled up fine today, so I'd imagine he'll be okay to go tomorrow night," Clarkson said.

"We'd like to think Buddy gives us more flexibility in our forward line."

Midfielder Shane Savage also returns from injury, with youngster Jordan Lisle and defender Kyle Cheney left out.

Geelong regain important duo Paul Chapman and Darren Milburn for the match.

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