Collingwood will take on the Western Bulldogs without vice-captain Steele Sidebottom after the classy midfielder was ruled out of their AFL opener with a calf injury.
Sidebottom, 30, injured his calf in the Magpies’ practice match against Richmond on March 5 and won’t be rushed back for Friday night’s game.
“With Steele, given the fact that he’d missed a lot of the season last year and is now an older athlete and a leader of the club, (we) decided to be a little bit conservative with (his) injury,” Collingwood high performance manager Kevin White said.
“So we’re working back from a round two return to play.”
White said Sidebottom would continue his rehabilitation this week with a view to returning to full training the Monday of round two.
Sidebottom hasn’t played since round 13 last season, missing the Magpies’ final six games of the season after flying home from their Queensland hub early ahead of the birth of he and his partner’s first child.
He also missed four matches through suspension after breaking AFL COVID-19 protocols in late June.
In better news for the Magpies, fellow vice-captain and reigning best-and-fairest Taylor Adams (hamstring) and gun defender Brayden Maynard (shin) have both been declared fit for round one.
Irishman Mark Keane (finger) is expected to be available for round two, with draftee Reef McInnes returning the week after that.
Young tall Will Kelly (collarbone) will push for a return in round three or four.