Former Geelong star Cameron Mooney says Allen Christensen’s absence is a big blow for the Cats ahead of their AFL qualifying final against Hawthorn.

Geelong have had to leave out midfielder Allen Christensen in a major blow for Friday night’s blockbuster AFL qualifying final against arch-rivals Hawthorn.

Christensen was rested for last week’s regulation win over Brisbane, but back soreness will stop him coming back for the massive clash at the MCG.

The 23-year-old did not start this AFL season until round 14 because of back surgery.

He had played eight games before last week’s omission.

“It’s a huge, massive out – do not underplay how important this guy is,” former Geelong star Cameron Mooney said on FoxSports.

“They’re going to miss him dearly.”

Christensen’s continued absence was unexpected after all the selection attention at Geelong had been on star utility Steve Johnson.

He will return after three weeks out with a foot injury, while Hamish McIntosh and Steven Motlop return after they also had last weekend off.

The Cats left out Mitch Brown, Billie Smedts and Lincoln McCarthy.

A late change could be brewing at Sydney ahead of Saturday’s qualifying final against Fremantle at ANZ Stadium.

There is speculation that Swans defender Heath Grundy could be in doubt with a calf muscle problem.

Adding fuel to that scenario is Sydney dropping Tom Mitchell, despite his 29 disposals and 13 tackles last weekend against Richmond.

The Swans loaded up for Saturday, with key forward Lance Franklin and fellow star Josh Kennedy leading five inclusions.

Ben McGlynn, Craig Bird and Mike Pyke will also return.

Shane Biggs, Dean Towers, Sam Naismith and Zak Jones joined Mitchell as the omissions.

As expected, Hawthorn key defender Brian Lake was named after recovering from the hip injury he suffered last Friday night in the win over Collingwood.

The Hawks recalled captain Luke Hodge, Ben Stratton and Bradley Hill for Ryan Schoenmakers, Angus Litherland and Billy Hartung.

The Dockers recalled ruckman Jon Griffin along with Nathan Fyfe and Alex Silvagni.

Michael Johnson (back) is a major loss for the Dockers and Nick Suban has an ankle injury, while Hayden Crozier was dropped.

North Melbourne included Lindsay Thomas, Todd Goldstein, Michael Firrito, Levi Greenwood and Luke McDonald for Saturday night’s MCG elimination final against Essendon.

Leigh Adams (concussion) and Lachie Hansen (hip) did not come up as Daniel Currie, Aaron Mullett and Mason Wood were left out.

Essendon regained David Myers and Ariel Steinberg for Paddy Ambrose and Orazio Fantasia.

Veteran Richmond midfielder Daniel Jackson is in the squad for Sunday’s Adelaide Oval elimination final against Port Adelaide.

But the Tigers left ruck-forward Ty Vickery out of their 25-man group, while Port are likely to be unchanged.