Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has dismissed suggestions Travis Cloke will play his last AFL game for the Magpies this weekend.
Cloke will return to the side to face Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday afternoon after his third spell back in the VFL this season.
Speculation is rife that the out-of-favour 29-year-old is set to seek a trade to another club after a difficult season, but Buckley is adamant he will see out the final year of his current contract.
“It will be Travis’s last game for 2016,” Buckley replied when asked if Cloke was about to play his last match for the club.
“That’s an external story, it’s not ours.
“We don’t take into account any of the external stuff. He has a contract for next year, he’s next-best suited to the role that we need played on Sunday. We want to win a game of footy … that’s where our entire focus is.”
Buckley said he is in constant dialogue with all his players, including Cloke, about their futures and he has no reason to believe the veteran forward is looking for a fresh start.
Cloke has been preferred ahead of American tall Mason Cox to replace young star Darcy Moore, who injured a hamstring in last week’s big win over Gold Coast.
The Pies are 12th on the ladder with nine wins as they prepare for their final game of a disappointing season, but Buckley is intent on finishing strongly.
“We made a commitment after the bye that we were going to have a crack at it,” he said.
“We’ve had a pretty tough draw in that back half (of the season) but we’ve played some of our better footy for the year and we want to see more of it on Sunday.
“We’re 5-4 from (the past) nine games and we’ve taken some good scalps and been competitive, but we’re still not satisfied.”