Scott Pendlebury threw a scare through the Collingwood camp yesterday, writhing in pain and clutching a knee as the Magpies prepared for Saturday night's blockbuster against West Coast at Patersons Stadium.
The midfield ace fell sharply after copping a knock to the side of his right knee during a contested full-ground training drill at Gosch's Paddock and was immediately attended to by club medical staff as ashen-faced coach Nathan Buckley and sports science director David Buttifant watched on.
But to their relief, Pendlebury soon returned to complete the session, although he looked proppy and was latter flexing the leg - the same one he broke against Gold Coast in round 10 - assessing it for any damage.
Buckley said Pendlebury felt pain, but after having it treated with what he described as "happy spray", did not expect it to keep the champion on-baller from the clash with the Eagles.
"Pain and footy go hand in hand, so he was suffering a little bit of pain but he got through well," Buckley said.
The Magpies face some selection headaches for the match, which will shape the top four.
Nick Maxwell and Darren Jolly were absent from training yesterday, with Buckley conceding they were battling soreness.
Defender Heath Shaw also looked sore and left the session earlier than teammates.
The Magpies will also have to consider whether they tick off on a return for Dane Swan, Alan Toovey, Tyson Goldsack, Andrew Krakouer and Ben Johnson.
All five trained well yesterday, with Buckley declaring Krakouer and Johnson in the selection mix after long injury lay-offs.
"It's a good problem to have, isn't it? When you get quality back and experience back and match that with a few of our young players who are incumbent at the moment, but have been able to fulfil fairly important roles for us," Buckley said.
"But we need to be better than we were last week (against North Melbourne) and we need to start that this week. We've got plenty of players who need to lift their performance on last week."
Collingwood have won four of their past five matches at Patersons Stadium and their past seven against West Coast, including a three-point thriller earlier this year and last year's qualifying final, both at the MCG.
Buckley said he would prepare for Eagle Josh Kennedy to return.
"I think West Coast's season has nearly mirrored ours," he said. "They've had injury concerns, they've got guys who won't come back and they're trying to push some guys back in on modified schedules to get them up for finals.
"We expect Kennedy to play and that will make them quite tall up forward, which has been the West Coast way in recent times. But they're still extremely strong through the midfield and have got some good depth through there.
"They've got some really strong running power through their flanks and wings and a really strong defence. You plan for your opposition's best every week and the Eagles' best is very good."
Buckley said his team's biggest motivating factor would be to remedy its "extremely poor" performance against the Kangaroos.
"Pain and footy go hand in hand, so he was suffering a little bit of pain but he got through well." " *Nathan Buckley *on Scott Pendlebury