Pies up for midfield challenge: Buckley

Collingwood face an early-season test of their midfield depth with the loss of Steele Sidebottom to a thumb injury.

Sidebottom had a pin inserted into his right thumb on Tuesday after he fractured it in the Magpies’ AFL win over Brisbane and he faces six to eight weeks out.

The 24-year-old joins former North Melbourne onballer Levi Greenwood (broken ankle) on the sidelines.

“It’s a challenge for us,” coach Nathan Buckley said.

“But we believe our midfield depth and the players that we can run through there is actually a strong point.

“That will be tested (though).”

Buckley said the loss of two first-choice midfielders presented opportunities for more time on the ball for players already in the side, with Sam Dwyer, Tim Broomhead and Paul Seedsman among those pushing for AFL selection with good performances in the weekend’s VFL practice match.

Important defender Ben Reid has been nursed through pre-season as he strives to overcome a horror run with soft-tissue injuries, but Buckley said he was ready to take a significant step toward an AFL return.

“Reidy will play (VFL) this week and will be increasing his game load (from there),” he said.

“We think we’re managing him really well.

“Externally there’s clearly an impatience to see him up and about, but we’ve said all along that he’ll play when he’s ready.

“He’s still got some more game load to get in and to find form in that time as well.”

A tiring Collingwood side held off a spirited late challenge from the Lions on Saturday.

But Buckley has been pleasantly surprised at how well his charges have recovered from the draining conditions in Brisbane ahead of their round-two clash against Adelaide at Etihad Stadium.

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