GEELONG forward Jeremy Cameron is confident the Cats' depth can fill Tom Hawkins' void if the former Coleman Medallist misses the early stages of the 2023 AFL season.
The pair combined for 197 goals in the Cats' premiership campaign but Hawkins is recovering from off-season foot surgery with no timeline put on his return.
Cameron, speaking at Cudgee Primary School on Monday as part of the club's two-day community camp in Warrnambool, said recruit Ollie Henry was one player who could slot into attack as the Cats plotted their flag defence.
"There's a number of young guys coming through. I think big Scratcher (Shannon Neale) has been training up forward a lot and he's been going really well," he said.
"Ollie has been showing off his skills at training which has been really good to see."
The creative forward said Henry, who crossed from Collingwood in the off-season, had an impressive skillset.
"He's that medium type but he can play tall and grabs the ball at the highest point and he protects it really well," Cameron said.
"He's one of those guys who can take a good mark and a hanger but he just seems to float in the air longer than anyone else and it's been really impressive to see his development."
Cameron is confident Hawkins will return at peak fitness.
"Tommy is training really hard behind the scenes," he said. "We'll have to wait and see when he comes in but he'll make sure the time's right when he does, whether that's round one or a little bit deeper into the season."
The three-time All-Australian - coming off a 24-game 65-goal season - said he too could miss an early fixture.
Cameron's partner Indi is pregnant with the couple's first child.
"The baby is due either round one, two or three," he said.
"It (missing a game) is definitely a big possibility. I have always been really clear that will come first.
"I guess it's lucky it's not in finals."
Geelong, which lost inspirational skipper Joel Selwood to retirement in the off-season, is bullish about its chances of going back-to-back but realises "you start at square one again".
"It's been really positive. It's been awesome to get back into training," Cameron said.
"Don't get me wrong, it was nice to have a few months off and really rest up and take it all in and get back and see family, but at the same time it's been really good to get back into training and back into the routine and schedule of the season."
Cameron, along with teammates Sam De Koning and Zach Guthrie, spent time playing kick-to-kick with Cudgee students.
The Dartmoor-raised footballer said it was nice to attend a small school with a similar feel to his home town.
"It reminds me a lot of Dartmoor primary where I went back in the day," he said.
"There's only 15 to 20 kids there at the moment and it's always good to get back."
Cameron said training at Warrnambool's redeveloped Reid Oval in front of Geelong supporters would be a nice opportunity.
"It's not too far from home and I have some family coming across as well," he said.
"I know Warrnambool is a big supporter of the Cattery and a lot of supporters come from down this way."
The Cats start their season against Collingwood at the MCG on March 17.
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