An injury set back to Geelong youngster Cooper Stephens has opened up the possibility of a mid-season draft selection.
The 2019 first round draft pick recently went under the knife, requiring surgery on an ankle injury he acquired in a VFL practice game.
This gives the Cats the chance to place Stephens on the long-term injury list, and thus enter the upcoming mid-season draft on June 2.
Speaking to media on Friday, coach Chris Scott said the club will be in no rush to make a decision.
“We’re keeping our powder dry a little bit and our options open for at least a few more days,” he said.
“Probably that decision will be made early next week.”
What was originally viewed as a medium-term ankle injury became a season-ender for the untried youngster, after he returned to running and light training in round four.
GM of Football Simon Lloyd provided an update on Wednesday.
“Cooper Stephens’ ankle wasn’t progressing as we would have liked and the club sought a second medical opinion from a specialist,” he told the Cats website.
“Collectively our medical team with Cooper have made the decision for him to have surgical intervention for his ankle, which occurred last weekend.
“Cooper is super professional and unfortunately hasn’t had a clear run at it, but he’ll be provided with strong support as he works through his rehabilitation.”
Scott and the football department are giving Stephens as much time as possible post-surgery to assess the extent of his time on the sidelines.
No decision on placing him on the long term injury list has been made yet, though it is beginning to seem increasingly likely that he will be.
“Our position on the mid-season draft has always been that our club will be prepared if a spot does open up,” Scott explained.
“It’s only become quite a recent development that Cooper could potentially go onto that spot. We’re taking our time to see how Cooper responds post-surgery.
“It’s a possibility that a spot could open up, because we suspect that Cooper will be on the longer term end.”
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With the depth of the side a noted positive for Scott, the fit Cats youngsters have been plying their trade in the VFL week-to-week.
The young stars have been given the chance to shine on the big stage, the Cats having played two nationally broadcasted Thursday night VFL games so far in 2021.
Oscar Brownless and Stefan Okunbor were particularly lively in last week’s 57-point demolition of standalone side Coburg.
Brownless finished his night with 26 disposals, seven marks and four tackles, while Okunbor showed off his aggression around the contest all night, finishing with a game high 15 tackles to go with his 18 disposals.
“Some VFL games are bigger than others,” Scott said.
“[Brownless and Okunbor] did perform really strongly. We aren’t without our injury concerns at the moment, we feel like we’ve got six or seven guys that in the past have fitted into our best team.
“Those guys who haven’t played much AFL footy are performing well too. They’re performing well on a slightly bigger stage and that’s always good for the club.”
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