Collingwood are unsure when talismans Dane Swan and Travis Cloke will return to their side.
In recent AFL seasons, Swan and Cloke have been two of the first picked in the Magpies’ 22.
But coach Nathan Buckley, preparing for Sunday’s clash with West Coast in Perth, finds himself making do without the two veterans.
The foot injury sustained by Swan in round one was expected to keep the 2011 Brownlow medallist out for the rest of the season.
However, Swan returned to the gym on Friday and is desperate to be back playing in August even if it means taking a few risks.
“There’s still a lot of unanswered questions about it but we’ll put the best plans in place to achieve Swanny’s goal,” Buckley said.
“I’m happy to hear him say that he wants to and we won’t be standing in his way.”
Cloke’s absence is because of form, not fitness.
The two-time All Australian was dropped for the club’s 69-point win over Essendon on Anzac Day then overlooked again for the trip west.
“He needs to put together a body of work in VFL to prove his selection,” Buckley said.
“We would love to have had another tall target to take over to Perth.
“But Trav, we’ve got to be sure of exactly what we’re going to get.”
Buckley wouldn’t be drawn on how long that might take to fix.
But the man who played 260 games for the Magpies made it clear that the club was thinking long term when it came to the power forward’s omission.
“He’s got to work his way through it and the coaching staff are here to help him,” Buckley said.
“With the belief that if we get this right we come out the other side with a better footballer, a better leader.
“Not just for the next month but beyond, for a long way beyond.”
Buckley suggested hard work, not goal hauls, will be crucial to Cloke’s hopes of a recall.
“It’s not statistical and it won’t be based on how many goals he kicks,” he said.
“It’s just really competing in the air, competing on the ground.
“Getting that level of contest and work-rate that we’ve come to expect and take for granted from Trav for a long time.”
Buckley’s update on Swan was positive but fresh injuries have hampered Collingwood’s hopes of recording an upset win over the Eagles.
Taylor Adams (knee) and Travis Varcoe (hamstring) were both enforced omissions, while Tyson Goldsack underwent thumb surgery this week.