Collingwood duo Jamie Elliott and Taylor Adams will remain sidelined on Saturday night when the second-placed Magpies take on battling North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

Pies coach Nathan Buckley told reporters early on Tuesday afternoon that small forward Elliott (hamstring) was a chance to be passed fit but just a few hours later the club tweeted that the livewire had been ruled out.

Gun onballer Adams (adductor) will be grounded for at least another fortnight, while star defender Jeremy Howe (calf) is expected to be out for up to three weeks.

The brilliant Elliott, who missed the entire 2018 season largely due to ongoing hamstring problems, kicked 12 goals and handed off another nine in his seven games this season before suffering his latest hamstring mishap late in the round eight win over Carlton.

Even if the 26-year-old had been given the go-ahead from the Magpies' medical team this week, it was unclear whether he would have returned at AFL or VFL level given his lengthy lay-off.

The club had initially deemed Elliott's injury as only minor, relieved that it was in a different area of the hamstring to where he'd experienced previous issues, but it will now stretch into seven weeks on the sidelines. However, Buckley said the 96-gamer hadn't suffered any further setbacks during that period.

"Jamie hasn't missed a beat," he insisted.

The Pies last week lost the speedy Jaidyn Stephenson to a betting-related suspension for the rest of the home-and-away season, so the prospect of regaining another explosive goalkicker in Elliott is a tantalising one.

"The sort of (training) volumes he's doing out there at the moment are nearly full-game volumes and with as high intensity as you could get in training. Over the years we have been prudent, and we have run guys through the VFL, but we'll make that judgment when he gets the green light," Buckley said.

"(He) trained really strongly the past couple of weeks, did a massive session on Sunday, (he) will train fully through this week and whether he's (available) this week or next, we're looking forward to getting him back. He's been really impressive."

In Howe's absence, fellow backman Matt Scharenberg seems the logical replacement given he has performed strongly in three VFL games since recovering from his third knee reconstruction, amassing 33 possessions and 16 marks on Sunday.

However, Buckley was only prepared to say that Scharenberg would "potentially" be an inclusion.

"He's played a good block of footy and had a really good game on the weekend. We know he's an AFL-quality player, it's just a matter of whether the timing's right for him and for us," he said.

Adams tore his left adductor in the round seven win over Port Adelaide and aggravated it three weeks later when he pushed hard to prove his fitness for the round 10 clash with Sydney. Buckley said the Pies had taken a "more prudent" approach to his recovery this time.

"We want to make sure he's absolutely ready to go before we pull the trigger," he said.

After the Pies' unconvincing nine-point win over the lowly Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday, Buckley labelled it their worst effort in "a long time".

"I had the red mist going about our performance, and it didn't look any better on tape," he added on Tuesday.

"We're not playing optimally at the moment. We've got a lot of growth in us …

"We played really well against Melbourne (in round 12) but were no good at stoppage, (and we) didn't execute what we wanted to against the Bulldogs but were brilliant at stoppage. If we can put it together, then I'll be happier."