Collingwood will continue to be conservative with injury-plagued star Ben Reid as he pushes for a long-awaited AFL comeback.
Reid kicked three goals in the VFL last weekend, but coach Nathan Buckley is doubtful the 2011 All Australian will return for Saturday’s match against .
If fit, Reid would give the Magpies a massive boost because of his ability to play as a key defender or forward.
But he has not played at all this season because of a succession of soft tissue injuries and Reid only managed four AFL games last year.
“We’ll be taking his best interests and his capacity to stand up and make sure that he can get through the game injury free (into consideration),” Buckley said after Tuesday training.
“We’ll also be considering the team’s needs as we always do.
“There’s a few elements that come into play, but my gut feel is he’s going to need more footy.
“We’ll make that call later in the week.”
The Magpies’ season is on the brink after five straight losses.
They will be without top forwards Travis Cloke and Jamie Elliott for at least one more week.
Collingwood have not been terrible – the biggest margin in the losing streak is 31 points – but Buckley is worried about their team defence.
While Sunday’s 18-point loss to the Western Bulldogs was an entertaining clash, Buckley said elements of his team’s play were poor.
Their last two games were under the Etihad Stadium roof and Buckley said the faster pace at the ground had exposed them to an extent.
“We’ve been easier to play against in the last couple of weeks, in particular, and it’s coincided a little bit with Etihad, no doubt,” he said.
“It’s a faster track (and) it asks your team defence to be sharper.
“What it’s shown is we’re still developing our ability to maintain our shape and the detail of the way we defend against the best offences on the fastest tracks.
“We’re unlikely to find ourselves back on Etihad again this year, but next time we do, we’ll be more prepared.”
But Buckley added it was too simplistic to say that Collingwood’s problems were due to pace.
He noted if their defensive structure was right, they could take away the opposition’s speed.
“We know how we want to go about it and we haven’t done it as effectively over the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“It’s not simplistic to say if we don’t get that right, our die is cast.
“But when we go, our die is cast the other way.
“We’re a really good side when we defend well and we’ve proven ourselves to be very gettable when we don’t.”
Midfielder Taylor Adams will return from suspension against the Demons.