Exciting young midfielder Quinton Narkle paid tribute to teammate Dan Menzel after learning he would become Geelong's sixth AFL debutant of the year on Friday night.
Having fully recovered from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament suffered in June last year, Narkle has forced his way into the senior lineup with some eye-catching displays at VFL level.
Supporting him all the way during the long months in rehab was Menzel, who knows far more than most about serious knee injuries, having undergone four reconstructions of his own.
"He was there as soon as I woke up from surgery and he was the last person to run off a little checklist before I came back," the 20-year-old Narkle said on Wednesday.
"He's helped a lot.
"Also people like Cory Gregson and Lincoln McCarthy, people who I have spent a lot of time in rehab with."
Key defender Harry Taylor, midfielders Scott Selwood and Cam Guthrie and Menzel are all in contention to take on the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium after coming off the injury list.
Several others, including ruckman Zac Smith, utility Nakia Cockatoo and backman Lachie Henderson will spend at least one week in the VFL before being considered for senior selection.
Coach Chris Scott faces a tricky balancing act introducing the group back into he top-flight as the AFL team's next three games are on Friday followed by two Thursday night interstate clashes, while the Geelong VFL team plays later each weekend.
But Narkle is a certain starter against a Bulldogs team already out of finals contention.
"We're excited to see him on the big stage and we're confident that he'll do well," Scott told reporters.
"He kicked a beautiful goal (in the VFL) a couple of weeks ago, winning the ball in (the defensive) 50 and taking it all the way down the ground.
"He's a really contested player, sharp with the ball, who can play multiple roles."
Narkle will become the rejuvenated Cats' 14th AFL debutant in the past season and a half.
"It's a really difficult situation for a young player who was out of contract at the end of this year," said Scott.
"The temptation I'm sure would have been to fast-track his recovery and put a lot of pressure on himself to play well to secure his place on our list.
"Our approach was that we just always wanted to get him back playing footy and make sure physically he was OK.
"Assuming he was able to do that we were pretty confident that his position on our list was assured."