Nick Daicos has been passed fit to play in Collingwood's preliminary final clash with GWS, but questions remain about whether the young gun will be able to recapture the same form he displayed in the first half of the AFL season. Daicos has overcome his knee injury and will replace Taylor Adams in the Magpies' starting side for Friday night's sold-out blockbuster at the MCG.
But Collingwood coach Craig McRae admitted it would be hard for the 20-year-old to get back to the form that made him the Brownlow favourite before he fractured his knee in round 21. "Those questions are hard to answer," McRae told reporters on Wednesday.
"He's training well but he's missed a lot of footy, so we've got to be conscious of that. He might start forward, he might start mid.
"It's a great weapon to have when you're bringing back one of your best players. He looks like he's hungry and ready to go. He's trained on and on ... we'll use him where we need him."
The initial estimate was that Daicos would miss six weeks, and the preliminary final will come seven weeks since he was injured. But McRae revealed he wasn't always confident the youngster would play again this season.
"There was some concern," the coach said. "When a bone has to heal, no one knows what time that's going to be.
"There's an estimation and there's a hope but still there's a lot of things that need to happen. It's a credit to the medical staff and then to him for following the plan, and now he gets back with an opportunity to play."
Collingwood dismiss concerns around Darcy Moore
Magpies captain Darcy Moore has also been battling a wrist issue, but trained in front of hundreds of fans at Olympic Park on Wednesday. "It's settled down reasonably well," McRae said about Moore's injury. "It was probably more sore going into the Essendon game (in round 24) and sort of lingered a little bit, so I don't think it will be an issue."
Adams, who missed last year's preliminary final as well due to a groin injury, won't play against GWS after injuring his hamstring at training last week. But the Magpies remain hopeful their vice-captain will be cleared to return if they reach the grand final.
"He's progressing really well. It was a minor hamstring strain and what that means is he's a chance," McRae said. "You would see the work he's doing. He's in a race against the clock but we've got to get their first."
Brayden Maynard and Toby Green in blockbuster clash
The Collingwood-GWS clash will see Brayden Maynard go toe-to-toe with fellow bulldog Toby Greene in what looms as a blockbuater head-to-head battle. Greene was suspended for the 2019 preliminary final win over Collingwood and missed GWS' loss to the Pies earlier this year through injury, making a potential match-up all the more tantalising.
"I want to see that happen to be honest," Collingwood defender Nathan Murphy told AAP. "Bruz, he's had a go at him in the past couple of years, Q's (Isaac Quaynor) had a go.
"So I dare say there probably will be a match-up there but our system will look after them as well. We want to see those boys playing to their strengths as well so we won't forget that. But as a football fan as well I would love to see some of that (Greene-Maynard) match-up happen - it would be great."
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