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No repeat of 2017 hiccup for fit-again Wells

Injured Magpie duo on track for round one Collingwood assistant coach Brenton Sanderson provides AFL.com.au with a pre-season update
Daniel Wells is in far better shape than this time last year - AFL,Collingwood Magpies,Daniel Wells
Daniel Wells is in far better shape than this time last year
A guy we're all excited about, without getting over the top about it, is Daniel Wells
Pies assistant coach Brenton Sanderson

COLLINGWOOD star Daniel Wells has had a far more productive pre-season than last and is in excellent physical shape heading into 2018, assistant coach Brenton Sanderson says.

The condition in which Wells, 32, has presented himself this pre-season is a far cry from last year when he came back, as coach Nathan Buckley put it, "out of shape".

A niggling calf complaint kept the classy midfielder to just 10 matches in 2017, with Wells starting the year on the sidelines and missing the first three rounds of the home-and-away season because of the injury. 

"A guy we're all excited about, without getting over the top about it, is Daniel Wells who we saw in 10 games last year and he was just silky smooth in the games that he played," Sanderson told AFL.com.au

The disappointment surrounding Wells' lack of continuity was slightly offset by the quality of football he produced when he was able to play. 

The former Kangaroo averaged 18.5 disposals and a goal a game, with the Magpies winning seven and drawing one of the 10 matches Wells played in. 

Wells was outstanding in that drawn game against the Crows in round 19, gathering 34 disposals and kicking three goals to underline his class. 

The 253-gamer moved with confidence and zest when AFL.com.au attended training during the week. He also spent plenty of time mentoring young forward Kayle Kirby, with whom he has developed a strong bond.

Sanderson said Wells, who signed a lucrative three-year deal until the end of 2019, was ready to fire this season. 

"He's definitely had more training under his belt at this point this year than what he did at this point last year," Sanderson said. 

"If he can get up and running by round one and start the year like how he finished it in that purple patch through the middle part of last year he's going to be really exciting for us."

Sanderson said the club also has plans to employ half-back Brayden Maynard through the midfield at stages in 2018.

Maynard became a vital member of Collingwood's best 22 in 2017, with his aggressive mindset, ruthless attitude and long kicking an important part of the Magpies' backline.

The 21-year-old played one of the best games of his short career in a run-with role on star Melbourne onballer Clayton Oliver in round 23 last season, leading the Pies to consider their options with where they play Maynard.

Maynard, who stands 189cm and weighs 90kg, has the physical capability to match it with the tall midfielders that opposition teams have to offer.

"You can never have too many big bodies around the footy and we've seen that with a lot of the successful teams over the last few years," Sanderson said.

"They're putting those guys that are 190cm, 192cm, 194cm, bigger bodies around the footy.

"We saw a snapshot of Maynard pinch-hitting on ball and he looked really good.

"Once again we'll see Maynard a little bit more through the midfield but he'll still be used across half-back with that powerful left-foot kick."