Scott Pendlebury and Nick Maxwell are the leading candidates for the Collingwood captaincy, which is not decided by coach Nathan Buckley. Photo: Getty Images
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has endorsed veteran Luke Ball, as well as star midfielder Scott Pendlebury, as worthy leaders should the players decide the time is right for change when they vote on the captaincy in the next fortnight.
The Pies are currently going through their leadership process, and while incumbent skipper Nick Maxwell has the full support of Buckley, the coach conceded the decision was not his to make.
However Buckley did say he believed it would be out of three players - 29-year-old Maxwell, who has held the role for the past four seasons, 28-year-old Ball and 24-year-old Pendlebury.
"Personally, I've got no reason why Maxy wouldn't be (captain)," Buckley said.
"But our players will choose their leadership group and who they choose to follow. And that process alone is good to explore, to see what we value at the the footy club," he said.
If the Pies did go in another direction, many believed it would be a natural progression for vice-captain Pendlebury to succeed Maxwell.
However Buckley said Ball also deserved to be in the conversation, along with Pendlebury.
"I think Bally has been a great leader, you are easily forgotten when you've had to carry an injury all season and you haven't been able to perform on-field," the coach said.
"We all love our leaders to be the best-performed players and have career-best seasons year-in, year-out. Unfortunately Bally wasn't able to influence on the field last year, but did so off the field.
"But I reckon it's fair to say that those three are the standout leaders for us."
Ball is still recovering from the knee injury that rubbed out his 2012 season, and Buckley admitted it was "unlikely" the former Saint would play a role in the NAB Cup, casting doubts over whether Ball would be available for the club's season opener against North Melbourne on March 31.
Fellow midfielder Dale Thomas is also in the rehabilitation group as he continues his recovery from ankle surgery.
Buckley said the medical staff hoped Thomas would ready to resume training in three weeks.
"He's progressing fairly well. He's getting a lot of touch inside, we've been able to work specifically on his strength," Buckley said.
"He is definitely sick of the bike so he's pretty keen to progress and get load bearing as soon as possible."