Harry O'Brien with Magpies coach Nathan Buckley at training. Photo: Getty Images
Harry O'Brien will not return to football this weekend, with Collingwood to give the premiership defender more time to deal with his personal issues.
O'Brien has rejoined training since returning to the club last week, having taken the previous weekend off to deal with several issues, including a disagreement with coach Nathan Buckley.
He appeared to be in good spirits at training on Wednesday, including signing autographs for supporters, but Buckley said O'Brien had yet to be given clearance from medical experts to return to battle. The Magpies face the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
Alan Didak and Harry O'Brien will both be missing this weekend, but both are closing on a senior return. Photo: Getty Images
"Harry won't play this week. It's been quite public the issues he is dealing with at the moment," Buckley said.
"Along with the expert advice, the people he is working with and our doctors, we will find the right for him. It's not really a time-frame issue.
"It's just about when our players are right to play. It's easy when you have a calf or you have a hamstring. But there are other issues that you need to get right to be ready to play four quarters of intense football, ups and downs, the resilience required, so we are supporting Harry through the period at the moment and respect the fact that football might not actually be the thing he needs to do right now."
O'Brien had been in excellent touch before his personal problems became public in the days after the loss to Port Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.
While O'Brien will sit the weekend out, veteran small forward Alan Didak and recruit Quinten Lynch are set to resume from injury through the VFL.
"They are up and about. 'Dids' has got over his calf, Lynchy with his lower back stuff. They have had a couple of really solid weeks of training," Buckley said.
"They are more than likely to come back through the VFL on Friday night against Geelong, which is a massive game for our VFL (team) and our prospects there."
Didak has managed just the two senior matches this season, and was dropped after the Queen's Birthday clash against Melbourne despite having 25 disposals.
It's understood he had been axed because of his modest defensive intensity.
He faces a tough fight to regain a senior berth before the finals.
"His main thing is getting his body up and running. We will give him that opportunity and to see where we go from there," Buckley said.
The Magpies have been buoyed by their overall defensive strategies, conceding only 70 points per game between round 11 to round 16. They had coughed up an average of 106 points per game through the opening month of the season.
"We are tracking in the right direction," Buckley said.