The West

Swan surprise as Pies warm for run home
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 06: Dane Swan, coming back from a foot injury, is tackled by Tyson Goldsack during a Collingwood training session. Picture: Getty Images

Collingwood could be bolstered by the early return of Brownlow medallist Dane Swan for Sunday's clash with West Coast at Patersons Stadium.

A foot injury has prevented Swan from playing since round 17 and he wasn't expected to return until next week. But he trained yesterday and coach Nathan Buckley said a player of his talent and experience could return quicker than expected.

"That was his first football session. We'll see how he pulls up from that. He'll train again Friday," Buckley said.

"The original plan was probably to have him up for Brisbane but he's a senior player, he's got lots of experience, so we'll end up having a discussion with him over the next 24 hours to see where we go from here."

Luke Ball is also a chance to return. Collingwood must replace midfielder Taylor Adams after he was ruled out for the year with a torn finger tendon.

The Magpies' season looked doomed after going from 8-3 and fourth spot after round 12 to 9-8 and ninth after round 18.

But a win over Port Adelaide last Sunday thrust them back into the top eight.

"What I've noticed since the bye is we've had blokes step up and increase their demand on themselves and their teammates. We feel like we're in a really good place to attack the last part of the year," Buckley said.

"There's no doubt we were tired, we were fatigued through the period.

"We had three six-day breaks in four games, which is unusual. That adds up a little bit. We had a young group needing a breather and a senior element that had been carrying the can.

"What we've been able to do over the last couple of weeks is spread the load a lot more."

Collingwood beat West Coast by eight points in round 10, but Buckley said they needed to play significantly better this week.

West Coast had 65 inside 50s that night and controlled large portions of the game by maintaining possession.

The Eagles showed how dang-erous they can be when they overcame Adelaide last Saturday.

Buckley said it was vital to stop West Coast from playing similar football on Sunday.

"If you give teams their head, give them what they want and allow them to be comfortable in the environment then they're pretty hard to beat," Buckley said.

"They performed really well against us but we were able to get over the line without really having the balance of play."

"We feel like we're in a really good place to attack the last part of the year." " Collingwood coach *Nathan Buckley *

The West Australian

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