Dale Thomas is likely to miss the rest of the 2013 season. Photo: Getty Images
Collingwood playmaker Dale Thomas is no certainty to play again in 2013 after he and the club jointly decided surgery was the best option to remedy an ankle problem.
The Magpies have also confirmed their reigning best-and-fairest winner, Dayne Beams, will be missing until at least round 14 - after their mid-season bye - due to a slower-than-expected recovery from the quadricep injury that has prevented him playing so far this season.
Collingwood director of football Geoff Walsh confirmed on Tuesday morning its stance of last week to give Thomas a fortnight's break, in an attempt to alleviate ankle soreness, had changed.
Injured in the final training session before round one, Dayne Beams is yet to have made an appearance for the Magpies in 2013. Photo: Getty Images
As a result the 25-year-old was to undergo surgery on Tuesday morning to repair a hole in the ligament which runs along the side of his right ankle. The expected recovery time of three to four months will mean Thomas, at best, will return "about round 20-ish".
"I know last week we said we'd give Dale two weeks' off with his training load and see how that goes. In reflection and discussion with specialists . . . and the player himself over the weekend the optimism about how successful that would have been was only moderate. But we know that the operation will be a success, albeit he'll be out for a longer term obviously," Walsh said.
"The diagnosis is if the rehab goes well he'll be back for the last few rounds of the season."
Walsh stressed Thomas had been influential in the decision to turn to surgery, which he stressed was unrelated to the right-ankle surgery he had in late November that delayed his start to 2013.
"We involved Dale in the discussions on the weekend and I think he was much more positive about . . . getting it done now so that he knew he'd get a good result and then be able to play, albeit deep into the season, rather than hope that after two or three weeks it was going to be in a state that allowed him to resume."
Asked whether it was more likely than not that Thomas would not return this season, Walsh replied: "The surgeons have a contrary view to that."
Thanks for all the well wishes!0 Op went well, resting up at the minute & plotting my path for a late season return! #smokeyforthebrownlow— Dale Thomas (@DT_13) May 21, 2013
Thanks for all the well wishes!0 Op went well, resting up at the minute & plotting my path for a late season return! #smokeyforthebrownlow
Walsh also rejected the suggestion the extended convalescence period could be an opportunity to resume contract negotiations with Thomas, who is out of contract and said before the season he has keen to show some better form before signing a new deal.
"I wouldn't have thought the two were connected, no," he said.
Walsh said the delay in Beams return had been triggered by a desire to increase his training workload. Scans on the injury he suffered in the week of Collingwood's season-opener against North Melbourne revealed the "scar tissue around the injury is not robust enough to push him forward to the next level (of intensity) of his training".
Walsh said the 23-year-old's immediate training regimen would be reduced, rather than increased as planned, because of advice that "there was a danger we'd set him back to square one" if they did not.
"The scans on the weekend, which were a bit of a surprise, was that it wasn't scarring up the way we'd hoped," he said. "We've taken a really conservative approach there, pulled him back for a couple of weeks and said 'Let's see how things are after the bye'."
Collingwood has struggled to cover the absences in its midfield, but in and under ball-winner Luke Ball returned for his first game after a knee reconstruction against the Cats and performed well in Collingwood's six-point triumph.
The Magpies take on Sydney at the MCG this week before travelling to play the resurgent Lions at the Gabba. Their final two games before their bye are against league strugglers the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne.
Run and gone: key Magpies with injury problems
Tyson Goldsack: (hip) Utility hasn't played since round five.
Alan Toovey: (knee) Season ended in round five.
Luke Ball: (knee) Just played his first game in over a year.
Ben Johnson: (calf) Three games, just returned in the reserves.
Alex Fasolo: (foot) Three games, out for the season.
Lachie Keeffe: (knee) No games in 2013. On long road back from knee reconstruction.
Dale Thomas: (ankle) Late start, five games, then another major injury.
Clinton Young: (hamstring) yet to play, weeks away.
-with Will Brodie