Geelong Lose Bartel, Johnson For Blues Clash

Geelong’s bid to nab a top two spot on the AFL ladder was dealt a late blow of Thursday when the club announced premiership stars Jimmy Bartel and Steve Johnson would miss Friday night’s crucial encounter against Carlton.

A corked thigh will see the 30-year-old Bartel miss his 260th game while Johnson was announced a definite out earlier in the day after succumbing to a foot complaint.

Although scans revealed no bone damage to Johnson’s foot, the concern was high enough that the midfield star was caught on crutches earlier in the week.

“I’m aware he’s not playing this week,” veteran defender Tom Lonergan told media members on Thursday. “Hopefully he’ll be back next week. I don’t think it’s anything too serious.”

Geelong sit just percentage points behind Hawthorn and Sydney on the premiership ladder, but a 26 point differential will mean the Cats require as many wins as possible for a chance at a top two finish.

Replacing the pair are youthful duo Billie Smedts and rookie Jed Bews, totalling a combined 34 games of experience.

A number of big inclusions punctuated Thursday evening’s team entries- Jobe Watson and Michael Hibberd return for Essendon however Jake Carlisle will miss with a back injury, Michael Walters and Tendai Mzungu are in for Fremantle while opponent Hawthorn have named Brian Lake and dangerous forward Jack Gunston in the absence of suspended forward Jarryd Roughead, and Dane Swan makes a long-awaited return for the Magpies.

Photo: Michael Dodge/Getty Images