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Pies ponder problem of a different kind

Date

Martin Blake

Collingwood defenders Ben Reid and Heath Shaw prepare to train at Gosch's Paddock today.

Collingwood defenders Ben Reid and Heath Shaw prepare to train at Gosch's Paddock today. Photo: Pat Scala

Collingwood has a selection dilemma with three top players proving their fitness and available for the potential grand final preview against West Coast at the MCG on Saturday.

Centre half-back Ben Reid (thigh), half-back Heath Shaw and running defender Alan Toovey, who both had calf soreness, ran hard at training at Gosch's Paddock today and have been cleared to play.

"To have choice is pretty good," coach Nathan Buckley said.

"When you've got all-Australian quality players coming back in, that's the last thing that's going to give us a headache.

"Clearly we've had young players come in and perform their roles at various times, and we've exposed the depth of our list. They've been able to stand up when required. We'll pick our best 22 to win this game of footy."

Ruckman Cameron Wood is another who is in contention as a back-up to Darren Jolly in what shapes as the critical encounter of the match against Dean Cox and Nic Naitanui.

Wood has mostly only played when Jolly was injured, and they have not been together in the same side since round three, as the Pies have used forward Chris Dawes as a pinch-hitting ruckman since.

But Buckley admitted the Magpies may need a second bona fide ruckman against the Eagles.

Collingwood has had its share of injuries this season and is wary of bringing Reid, Shaw and Toovey back from soft tissue injuries all at once, but the medical staff have cleared the trio.

"We considered the management scenario over the bye and through the last couple of weeks, but when you've got players of that talent and competitiveness we know they're going to have an impact, you're more comfortable bringing three players in of that calibre," Buckley said.

"Especially against a very good West Coast offence. They're ready to go and ready to have an impact."

Reid's inclusion means it is the first time this season the tall defensive trio that includes Chris Tarrant and Nathan Brown is available at the same time.

All-Australian Reid has had a series of tests that included analysis of his running gait to determine why he keeps suffering quadricep strains.

"We think we've rebuilt him," Buckley said.

Vice-captain Scott Pendlebury (broken leg), forward Alan Didak (groin) and veteran Ben Johnson (shoulder) were all on the track today.

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