Collingwood will continue to keep a close eye on how Brodie Grundy is handling his first full season as the club’s first-choice ruckman, and doesn’t expect him to play every game in the last half of the year.
But the 20-year-old, who will play his 16th game on Saturday, isn’t ready for a rest yet.
“He’s going well, but we are conscious and very aware of the fact that he will need to be managed at some stage,” said coach Nathan Buckley.
The athletic Grundy has teamed mostly with Jarrod Witts this year, with Ben Hudson waiting in the VFL and Quinten Lynch recovering from a broken leg.
Grundy’s continued improvement has come with just one asterisk - he has given away 24 free kicks this season - the most in the league.
Buckley said Grundy and Witts were building a good partnership. “I think we’re getting better and better in that regard, and I think the connection between those boys and the midfielders at ground level is improving,'' he said.
“The fact we’ve just come off a bye helps Brodie, so [resting him] is not in the forefront of our mind at the moment, but I’d be very surprised if he played 22 games. It will more likely be 19 or 20 and we’ll make those decisions as we go down the track.”
Collingwood will consider calling Nathan Brown back into this week’s side to play West Coast, with the defender playing his third game in the VFL last weekend after time off to rest his injured shoulder.
Buckley thought defenders Jack Frost and Lachie Keeffe were beaten last week, but that his side generally struggled to apply enough defensive pressure to the Crows.
“Our defence is probably one of the issues out of [that game],'' he said. "The Adelaide forward structure asked a few questions of us that we were able to answer early days, but with 60 inside-50s against, you’re going to be in for a pretty tough job.
“We did well to keep Adelaide to 76 points given that supply, but Brown’s had three weeks back at VFL level and is ready to go if called upon.
“West Coast have been playing quite tall at both ends of the field and we’ll have a look at how they want to select their team and what’s working for them, but aerially they’re a great threat.
“We’ll have to consider our back mix to be able to cover that, but they’ve got some pretty good ground-level players as well. We’re not under-estimating West Coast in any particular aspect.”
Alex Fasolo missed training on Tuesday for management reasons but will train later in the week and play, while Ben Reid is still some time off returning from a calf injury, with Buckley in no mood to rush him back into the side.
“He’ll need another week-and-a-half of full training, and he’s had two or three really solid sessions now, but all along I’ve been really loath to be too specific, because you actually can’t progress to the next stage until you’ve got through this one,” Buckley said.
“Talking to Reidy, he’s really confident about where his body is, and the work that he’s been able to do in the last two or three weeks in particular. We’ve been scanning it consistently to understand the progression of the injury, and that’s going to be good not just for Reidy but any other players in that situation.
“We can give Reidy more time. We’ll give him as much time as he likes because when he gets back we’d like him to stay back and be a significant part of the second part of our year.”