Collingwood won't put any pressure on small forward Jamie Elliott to be back for round one, says Magpie skipper Scott Pendlebury.
As Elliott races recover for the season opener against the Western Bulldogs after suffering an ankle injury at training three weeks ago, the captain said he wanted the 24-year-old be ready when he returned.
"I have always said to him the whole way through 'don't feel any pressure that you have to get back for one game. When you are back, we want you back for the whole year'," Pendlebury told AFL Media.
Pendlebury said no-one expected Elliott to take unnecessary risks this year and he had told him "don't feel like there is pressure coming from players to you that you have got to be out there for round one."
The skipper said Elliott had been able to bounce thoughts off teammates like Ben Reid and Matt Scharenberg, who had endured similarly frustrating absences through injury while dealing with the latest setback.
Elliott is no certainty to play round one, but he was back running this week and could return for his first game since 2015.
"He is experienced enough now with his body to know that if he needs to make the smart call he will. While everyone wants to play in round one, there is also round two seven days later," Pendlebury said.
Elliott has kicked 104 goals in 72 games and would add a dynamic edge to a young forward line that includes Darcy Moore and Alex Fasolo.
Pendlebury, who will lead the Magpies for the fourth successive year in 2017, said that despite missing finals in the past three seasons, the years had not been wasted with significant changes occurring to build a foundation for future success.
He also said he was comfortable with the prospect of Daniel Wells playing 15 or 16 games a season, as the ex-Roo would make the Magpies a better team when he appeared in the midfield.
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