Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley will resist the temptation to take three not-quite-fit Magpies west to face AFL leaders Fremantle.
While Jarryd Blair is available after getting through a key training session on Tuesday, Ben Reid (quad), Darcy Moore (hamstring) and Levi Greenwood (ankle) will be staying in Melbourne for another run in the reserves.
For Buckley, it’s a case of playing the long game in a season with 11 rounds to go.
“Do we compromise our medium term for our short term?” Buckley asked.
“We don’t want to do that, we’re not in any position to do that, we support and back the players who are up and fit and able and believe that’s the best chance of success.
“They need consolidated time through the VFL and we don’t feel any need to find a short cut.”
While Collingwood’s successful season thus far has been largely achieved without the missing trio, Buckley is more concerned about the absence of ruckman Brodie Grundy.
Grundy’s neck injury suffered on the eve of their last-up win over GWS could end up keeping him out of football for a month.
It leaves Jarrod Witts to tackle man-mountain Aaron Sandilands with Jesse White as a makeshift No.2 ruckman.
“If we had others, to be honest, we would put two rucks in,” Buckley said.
“But we’re really happy with Jarrod’s ability to compete and contest and Jesse’s ability to support that.
“We can cover.”
Buckley says Richmond’s win over the Dockers – Fremantle’s only loss this season – has been a part of his match preparations for Thursday night’s match.
“When a side’s ten and one you might look at the one a little bit,” he said.
“They’re a really strong quality side and have been for a long time, well coached, well led.
“They’ve got some weapons in all parts of the ground.”
Chief among those is Nat Fyfe, whose runaway lead in the AFL Coaches Association player of the year award hasn’t passed Buckley by.
“He’s polled 90 votes out of a possible 110, that’s fairly significant,” he said.
“Even in the Gold Coast game a couple of weeks ago, he was the standout player on the ground and he didn’t play at his best.
“He’s a tough matchup but we’re not going to fall into the trap of looking at just one or two players.”