Pies ready to welcome back banned AFL pair

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has touched base with suspended pair Josh Thomas and Lachie Keeffe ahead of their impending return to the AFL club.

Buckley has confirmed the Magpies remain committed to the duo who are nearing the end of two-year doping suspensions handed down last year by ASADA.

When the bans – for taking illicit drugs laced with banned substance clenbuterol – became public last August, chief executive Gary Pert said it was incumbent on the club to provide a light at the end of the tunnel for them.

Buckley revealed he had spoken to the players this week and confirmed they were both keen to resume their AFL careers, albeit on the club’s rookie list.

“They’re tacking well, they’ve been away overseas for the last four or five weeks and I believe they’ve been staying in decent physical shape … clearly, we don’t get access to them until early December when they’re back,” Buckley said.

“But for them now, you can only imagine the emotions they’ve been through over the last couple of years and the fact that’s coming towards a close where they get their opportunity to come back and prove themselves at AFL level again.

“There’s still a lot of work for them to do and we’re looking forward to them doing that, but they seem to be in good spirits.”

Keeffe, who has played 40 AFL games, will be 26 on his return to the club and Thomas, who has made 32 senior appearances, will be 25.

“They will remain as rookies and they will come on and have the opportunity to prove, through their training, their capacity to come up on to the senior list,” Buckley said.

“That was the commitment we made to them a couple of years ago. , we stick to that, and hope that we are bringing in a couple of players that have played senior footy that can use that experience to assist us from 2017 onwards.”

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