SEVEN straight wins has Collingwood content but not complacent as they approach the midway point of the AFL season.
The Pies host Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday and could welcome back star trio Jordan De Goey, Darcy Moore and Mason Cox from injury.
De Goey (shin) and Moore (ankle) both missed games against Sydney and St Kilda over the past fortnight, while Cox hasn’t played since round six with a niggling ankle injury.
All three trained on Thursday but coach Nathan Buckley said their recovery would be monitored before a final decision was made.
Buckley confirmed Travis Varcoe would return from a one-game suspension as a like-for-like replacement for fellow veteran Daniel Wells, whose career hangs in the balance after he injured his knee in his first game in almost a year.
Since losing to West Coast in the round-three grand final rematch, Collingwood are undefeated and sit second on the ladder with two games left before their bye.
Yet not everything has gone exactly to plan.
Collingwood’s fourth-quarter prowess has been notable but Sydney, Carlton and St Kilda have tested the Pies’ staying power in recent weeks.
“I think we’re playing well. You don’t win without playing well, because the competition’s fierce,” Buckley told reporters.
“We don’t think we’re knocking it out of the park, either … but we’re pretty content with the way that we are backing up week after week.
“It’s a long season and we’re not even halfway through it so we still feel like there’s a lot of growth in us and we’ve got plenty of upside in what we’re bringing to the table. That’s a reason to be optimistic for us and our supporters.”
Another is the Pies’ depth.
With Jamie Elliott (hamstring) and Taylor Adams (groin) unavailable until after the bye, Buckley still has the likes of prime mover Brayden Sier, father-son talent Josh Daicos and exciting draftee Isaac Quaynor putting their hands up in the VFL.
“The VFL (players) are performing better,” Buckley said.
“After a slow start to the year we’re starting to see an upwards trend in the way that we play footy at that level and the individuals within it are pretty keen to take their chances when they come.”
The Pies could soon welcome back another key player in Matt Scharenberg, who will play in the VFL this weekend for the first time since undergoing a third knee reconstruction.
© AAP 2019