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Gaff puts acid on Magpies midfield
Andrew Gaff. Pic: AFL Media

Wingman Andrew Gaff says West Coast are more than capable of matching an in-form Collingwood midfield that will be without Scott Pendlebury for Saturday's clash at the MCG.

Magpies football director Geoff Walsh yesterday confirmed Pendlebury would miss the critical game with a leg injury.

It is a significant boost to the Eagles' hopes of ending a six-game losing streak against Collingwood and avenging last year's 20-point qualifying final loss.

Pendlebury had originally expected to miss only one game after suffering a hairline fracture to his tibia against Gold Coast earlier this month.

The Brownlow Medal fancy could now be sidelined for another fortnight, ruling him out of their game against Fremantle at the MCG in 11 days.

Gaff still rated Collingwood's midfield as the best in the competition, with or without Pendlebury.

"They've definitely got a lot of guys that go through there. (Dayne) Beams and (Steele) Sidebottom are in career-best form and have stepped up with Luke Ball's season-ending injury," he said.

"With those guys playing well, as well as (Dane) Swan, who's obviously back playing well, it's definitely a tough ask for us.

"But I think we're in good enough form and we've got good enough players in there to match them or even go better."

Beams and Sidebottom have covered for higher-credentialled teammates such as Pendlebury this season. They are averaging 30 and 29 disposals respectively and have kicked a combined 18 goals.

Swan also proved his two-week absence with a hamstring injury had not hurt his elite running power, racking up 42 possessions on return against Melbourne on Monday last week.

Despite those strengths, Gaff said the league-leading Eagles would not be overawed after pushing Collingwood to the brink during last year's finals series.

"I know that we were very close," Gaff said. "We played very well, our pressure was fantastic and we were very disappointed that we didn't win that game. We'll go over there with a lot of confidence."

Teammate Patrick McGinnity said Swan was unstoppable.

He said the best option may be to send Scott Selwood to the Brownlow medallist in an effort to hurt Swan by attacking off him. "I think that's the best way to damage Collingwood," McGinnity said.

West Coast regain vice-captain Beau Waters from suspension, but will be without Will Schofield (hamstring) for the next fortnight.

Sam Butler is also likely to miss another week with a hamstring injury.

Magpies defensive trio Ben Reid (quad), Heath Shaw (calf) and Alan Toovey (calf) are expected to play.

Eagles forward Jack Darling has been cleared of staging for a free kick against Carlton last Thursday after the match review panel found his arm had been forced up as he attempted to break a tackle and he struck himself in the face. <div class="endnote">

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