COLLINGWOOD'S hopes of returning to the top four in the near future rest with the club's emerging young players, coach Nathan Buckley says.

The Magpies sent their first- to fourth-year players to Falls Creek in Victoria's alpine region for what was at times a gruelling five-day camp this week.

Fitness was one goal of the camp, but the Magpies also used the trip to go through a number of team bonding exercises.

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley labelled the camp a success and said he was pleased with the character his young charges displayed.

The Magpies missed the finals for the first time since 2005 this season, but Buckley said his expectations were high for 2015.

That the Pies beat three top-four sides last season added to Buckley's optimism.

"We clearly aren't a top-four side at the moment and we want to move towards being in contention as soon as possible," Buckley said at Falls Creek on Friday morning.

"Whether that's 12 months or 24 months or 36 months … that's going to be a product of what the boys put in and our own growth compared to the other top-four sides.

"We're not far away but we need to be able to do it for a whole season."

With much of the core of its 2010 premiership team departed, the Magpies have no choice but to put the onus on their younger players.

Buckley said the club's youngsters were embracing the newfound responsibility.

"We'll need strong leadership from the senior players, who have had five seasons or more, but the powerbase of our club is going to sit with these (young) guys for a long time," he said.

"They understand that, they welcome it and they're looking forward to seeing where they can take it."

Ben Reid, who managed just four senior games last season because of a series of soft tissue injuries, will return to the club on November 17 with the other older players on a revised program.

Buckley said it was essential the 2011 All Australian defender returned to peak fitness to add much-needed structure to the Magpies' side.

Young midfielder Josh Thomas will return to the club on a modified program after a skin infection in his hand.

Thomas was the victim of a mugging while on holiday in Los Angeles and as a result will not join in football-specific training until after Christmas.

Star midfielder Dane Swan was another Magpie who dealt with his fair share of injury worries in 2014 and Buckley said the 2011 Brownlow medallist was ready to hit pre-season full of running.

"He's a bit of a forgotten man in our mid-forward region because of his season last year and he'll be hungry to get back to some of his best footy," Buckley said.