Dan­ger backs Cats youth

Gee­long star says there’s plenty of tal­ent to fill Kelly’s boots

Mercury (Hobart) - - SPORT - RYAN REYNOLDS AFL

PA­TRICK Danger­field has put it on Gee­long’s gen­er­a­tion-next to fill the void left in mid­field by star Tim Kelly.

The ex­plo­sive mid­fielder re­turned home to Western Aus­tralia early in this year’s trade pe­riod, leav­ing the Cats with­out one of their best.

But Danger­field is con­fi­dent Gee­long has the tal­ent to re­place Kelly, adding a num­ber of young Cats — in­clud­ing Char­lie Con­sta­ble and Lachie Fog­a­rty — had al­ready put their hand up to make that po­si­tion theirs.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to re­place some­body of Tim Kelly’s cal­i­bre. He is an out-and-out star of the game,” Danger­field said.

“The door is open. Tim has left and he will be a won­der­ful player for West Coast, but it gives other play­ers op­por­tu­ni­ties and this is what pre-sea­son is about.

“We saw some real big im­prove­ments last year from Char­lie Con­sta­ble. Lachie Fog­a­rty wants to play more in the mid­field, I know that.

“Jack [Steven] has ob­vi­ously come across from St Kilda. And then there will be the nat­u­ral progress from guys we’ve seen like Sam Simp­son, who didn’t play AFL footy last year but his se­cond half of the year was re­ally strong. I see a re­ally bright fu­ture with what he is go­ing to be able to con­trib­ute to our team and the way he has come back and the nick he is in is ex­cep­tional.

“There’s a lot of mid­field­ers, a lot of up-and-com­ing mid­field­ers on our team.

“‘There’s a spot there and it’s your op­por­tu­nity to grab it’. That’s the mes­sage from us.”

Danger­field re­turned to train­ing early fol­low­ing the off-sea­son, join­ing Gee­long’s first to fourth year play­ers as well as re­cruits Steven and Josh Jenk­ins on the track.

The 29-year-old said train­ing was “just more fun” than run­ning laps through the sum­mer. He said he was happy with what he had seen from Steven and for­mer Crows team­mate Jenk­ins early in pre­sea­son.

“Ev­ery­one is go­ing to tell you how great [con­di­tion] their list is in and ev­ery­one is run­ning PBs — and that’s won­der­ful,” Danger­field said.

“But at the end of the day the most im­por­tant thing is we put in a re­ally good four month block and then we will be judged on our per­for­mances, as Jack and Josh will be.”

Nakia Cock­a­too has been an­other that’s caught eyes on the track with the 23-year-old train­ing solidly fol­low­ing a hor­ror run with in­jury.

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