Collingwood's bid to climb back into the AFL's top eight took a sizeable step forward on Tuesday with premiership stars Ben Reid, Dale Thomas and Heath Shaw pushing for senior recalls.
Reid is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a quadricep complaint while Thomas and Shaw (hamstring injuries) are also on track to play in Friday's round-six clash with the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium.
"Those three in particular would all have fairly strong claims - we're hopeful," Collingwood football director Geoff Walsh told reporters.
"Ben has come up really well, quite a deal quicker than we thought originally, so that's good."
But Walsh said fullback Chris Tarrant, who suffered a calf injury in round two, was unlikely to play AFL in the next couple of weeks.
"With a bit of luck ... we think Chris will be able to play in our VFL team next week," Walsh said.
Small forward and two-time All-Australian Alan Didak, whose pre-season was interrupted by a groin injury, is also making solid progress.
"He's had a couple of (VFL) games under his belt and performed OK, got a fair bit of the footy," Walsh said.
Collingwood's Brownlow Medal favourite Scott Pendlebury says the 10th-placed Magpies feel they're starting to regain the form that saw them finish runners-up in 2011.
"From Port Adelaide (in round four), it started again. We got back to that real pressure and tackle pressure that we're sort of known for," he said.
"That Port Adelaide game was a really big game for us and then to back up straight away against Essendon and get another result was really pleasing.
"We've got a little bit of momentum now and we want to keep that going Friday."
Pendlebury said Collingwood coaching strategist Rodney Eade, the former Bulldogs coach, would play a key role this week.
"It's going to be quite significant for us, more finding out about individual match-ups and going to 'Rocket' and getting his insight into players," Pendlebury said.
Pendlebury said the defensive issues that plagued the Magpies in losing two of their first three games this season had been overcome.
"We've always had confidence in our defence. We've been a bit leaky at times," he said.
"It was things that we knew were in our control to fix up. It was more up to us to make amends for that and we've done that in the last two weeks."
Meanwhile, Walsh tried to play down the controversy over last year's Collingwood coach Mick Malthouse mentoring Melbourne player Aaron Davey this season.
"I don't think there's any issues with that," Walsh said.