Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has dismissed as folly the presumption that key forward Travis Cloke makes his AFL return this week.
Darcy Moore’s fractured collarbone predictably has led to speculation that Cloke’s VFL exile will end next Sunday when the Magpies host Port Adelaide at the MCG.
“The reality is that is an assumption – match committee will take place on Thursday and it’s folly to discuss anything before we get to that,” Buckley told AFL360.
“If he’s part of the best, fittest, hardest 22, ready to come up against (Port Adelaide) this week, he’ll come into the side.
Cloke has been out of favour since being dropped for their Anzac Day win over Essendon.
Collingwood’s VFL team had the bye over the weekend.
Buckley also denies Collingwood’s injury crisis means they are past the tipping point in their AFL season.
The Magpies are reeling from the disastrous fallout after the loss to the Western Bulldogs, where they were overrun after having no fit players left on the bench.
Moore had surgery on Monday night to fix his collarbone, while Alex Fasolo has a shoulder fracture and Taylor Adams is out with a serious hamstring injury.
The good news was Alan Toovey’s concussion was not as serious as feared, and Ben Crocker pulled up well after playing out the game with an ankle injury.
Magpies football manager Neil Balme listed Moore, Fasolo and Adams with medium-term injuries, meaning they are out of action for several weeks at best.
But Buckley is confident that the Magpies can rally in their games against Port Adelaide and Melbourne before the mid-season bye.
“Have we not learned over the last couple of weeks not to go too early?,” Buckley told AFL360.
“We’re not even halfway through the season.
“We’re going to be behind the eight ball – clearly – but we have a couple of key games coming up before our bye and they’re must-win games for us.
“So we’ll approach them as such.”