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Pies ponder big-name inclusions

Pies 'looking for Reidy to play' Watch Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley speak with the media following his side's win over North Melbourne in the second round of the NAB Challenge.
Ben Reid could return for Collingwood's final NAB Challenge match against the Western Bulldogs.

Nathan Buckley has forecast some big-name inclusions for Collingwood's final NAB Challenge hitout, with defender Ben Reid aiming to join Adam Treloar in next Saturday's clash with the Western Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, North Melbourne will mull over bringing back Shaun Higgins from a knee injury for the final tune-up against Hawthorn.

Buckley said the Pies were facing some selection headaches after his side outlasted the Kangaroos 0.12.13 (85) to 1.10.8 (77) in scorching conditions at Wagga Wagga on Saturday.

Squads will be trimmed by two players to 24 for the final round of the pre-season competition, but Collingwood's impressive victories over Geelong and the Roos means the heat is on to secure spots ahead of round one.

VIDEO: Young Magpie's first goal.

Reid is being managed carefully after a calf complaint but is a potential starter against the Dogs, while Marley Williams could make his first appearance this pre-season.

"We're looking for Reidy to play (the Bulldogs), Marley Williams as well, (plus) Steele (Sidebottom) and Nathan Brown," Buckley said.

"Adam Treloar on Sunday will get a run around with reduced game (time) but will be looking to get back involved in the Bulldogs match."

The Pies have been juggling bountiful options through midfield and Dane Swan, Scott Pendlebury, Taylor Adams and Travis Varcoe have all proven dangerous up forward in the NAB Challenge.

Rookie forward Corey Gault (three goals against North) has kicked six goals in two games, while American man mountain Mason Cox and injured midfielder Josh Smith are also in contention to be elevated to the senior list.

"(Gault) really stood up again today and he had two half games leading into today … and he was in a similar position last year but he's 12 months more advanced," Buckley said.

"Clearly, he's really strong aerially, he plays that role as well as any of our half-forwards. But he's still on our rookie list, so we've got decisions to make, as we do with Mason Cox leading into the early part of the year."

 
Buckley, who also lauded damaging forward Alex Fasolo's maturity and Taylor Adams' stellar performance against North, refused to entirely blame tough conditions for some skill errors in an "ugly game".

"I thought we could've been sharper with the ball and we could have defended a little bit better," he said. "We did enough to be ahead on the scoreboard at the end of the day, but we want to be a fair bit better than that."

Meanwhile, North Melbourne coach Brad Scott said the Roos will have a nearly fully-fit squad to pick from for their contest against Hawthorn, and could bring back classy onballer Higgins after knee surgery.

"He's a chance to play this week, but we've got to make a decision whether that's the right thing to do," Scott said of Higgins.

"We still think he's on track for round one and he's had a really good prep to this point."

The Roos have played 40 of their squad in the opening two pre-season games and are set to narrow towards their best available team for their final tune-up.

"We'll take 24 in the next NAB Challenge game, so we'll bring a few guys back," he said.

"We'll have some selection issues, but that's what we want."

Scott was also pleased but not surprised by Daniel Wells' return after 328 days on the sidelines, confident the 31-year-old's strong pre-season will set him up for a big year.

Wells was his typically silky-smooth self, finishing with 17 disposals and five inside 50s.

"He's had a good preparation and whenever he's prepared well in the pre-season he's generally had a good season," Scott said.