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Buckley backs Grundy

Press Conference: Nathan Buckley Hear from coach Nathan Buckley as he discusses the Big Freeze game next week against Melbourne.

The much-hyped battle for the unofficial title of the AFL's No. 1 ruckman will go ahead as anticipated despite Collingwood star Brodie Grundy being on limited duties on Thursday.

Grundy will lock horns with Melbourne giant Max Gawn in the Queen's Birthday clash on Monday, but has been hampered by an ankle issue that flared early in the Magpies' upset loss to Fremantle at the MCG on Saturday.

The 25-year-old completed the warm-up with his teammates on Thursday and there was some concern among Pies watchers when he moved away from the main group to run laps, before leaving the track early.

In Grundy's absence, the ruck duties at training were shared by Mason Cox, who could finally become available after missing five games with his own ankle problem, along with rookie ruckman Max Lynch and Jordan Roughead, who has held down a key defensive post.
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley insisted the Pies were just managing Grundy's workload and he would be fit to take on the Demons on an eight-day break.

"Brodes is fine. He got through the game well after tweaking it a little bit early in the game. We've got a longer week (which) gives us a little bit more time to recover and prepare, and we don't think we'll have a problem there," Buckley said.

With champion onballer Dayne Beams suffering a potentially season-ending hip injury, , Buckley said the Pies would look for his replacement among midfielders Brayden Sier and Josh Daicos, both of whom are gunning for their first AFL games of the season, while Rupert Wills was also a candidate.

Buckley said Sier's VFL form had been "really good", while Daicos had also "stood up really well" at state league level.

The Woods will name an extended squad of 26 on Thursday night and hold their main training session on Saturday before settling on their final 22.

Cox trained well, but Buckley was gun-shy about declaring his availability given he thought the big American might play last week. Cox’s lengthy stint on the sidelines could count against him returning at AFL level, and he may resume in the Pies' VFL team on Sunday.

"It's a consideration, whether we put him in the VFL or whether we put him straight in. He's had a fair bit of work, straight-line stuff (and) the side-to-side (movement) for a week-and-a-half, two weeks. It is a consideration whether we pull the trigger on that," Buckley said.

The last-minute loss to Freo after seven successive wins had "sharpened" the Pies' focus, Buckley said.

"Over the last couple of weeks we probably just haven't defended the ground as well as we normally do."

Versatile runner Jack Crisp was moved from defence to the onball brigade against the Dockers because the Pies "needed some run" on the day according to the coach. It was an option they would "continue to go to", but Buckley was confident his team boasted sufficient run and carry overall.

Josh Thomas' output hasn't been to the standard he set himself last season, but Buckley says the small forward isn't in danger of being dropped.

"'JT' is really hard on himself and he's so disciplined and diligent to (his) role. When we click and are in form, his contribution rises with it because he just won't leave (his) role to feather his nest. We love his discipline, we love his top-end capacity, we love his grunt and his clean hands. No, I'm not concerned about his form at all. "

Buckley also addressed his "broken" relationship with his former coach Mick Malthouse, with whom a war of words erupted on Wednesday, the day after Malthouse was inducted into the Australian Football Hall of Fame.

Buckley was disappointed with how the saga had been reported and encouraged people to listen to his original comments in their entirety to gain the full context.

He said the focus should be on Malthouse's significant "contribution to the game”.