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Dees midfielders ready for Cats’ hard tag

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Melbourne are prepared for Geelong to send tagger Mark O’Connor to gun midfielder Clayton Oliver as they attempt to go 4-0 and achieve their best start to the AFL season since 1994.

The Irishman did a stellar job on Brisbane’s Lachie Neale, then Hawthorn’s Tom Mitchell in consecutive weeks, while Oliver was held to 23 touches by GWS’ Matt De Boer.

Coach Simon Goodwin said it was on his midfielders to exploit any potential tag in Sunday’s game at the MCG.

“I expect him (O’Connor) to go to someone – he’s done two pretty good jobs in the last few weeks,” Goodwin said.

“That’s one thing we’ll plan for and make sure that it helps the team more than anything.

“There are certain ways you can manipulate taggers to help the team and we’ll certainly look to have the plans to be able to do that.

“But we’ll expect him to go to someone and Clayton’s someone that got some attention last week.”

In 2020, Melbourne lost to Geelong by three points and struggled to deal with the Cats’ patient, controlled style.

“Last year against us they played with great control in their back half,” Goodwin said.

“We’ll prepare our players for both (a controlled or fast-paced Geelong) and see if we can defend the way we’ve been defending.”

Geelong, who are still without Jeremy Cameron (hamstring), Patrick Dangerfield (suspension) and Gary Rohan (suspension) have regained Sam Menegola (AC joint) while Brad Close and Zach Guthrie return.

Shaun Higgins (thumb) and Francis Evans (ankle) are unavailable while debutant Max Holmes and substitute Charlie Constable were dropped.

Melbourne’s Jake Melksham will play his first game of the season after he was the medical substitute against GWS, with Tom Sparrow dropped.

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