COLLINGWOOD forward Travis Cloke says Harry O'Brien's future at the club is not up in the air and he is hopeful the premiership defender will return from personal leave on Sunday with a "fresh mindset".
Cloke confirmed on Sunday morning that words had been spoken between O'Brien and coach Nathan Buckley this week but said it was a "private conversation between the group that was there".
AFL.com.au's Damien Barrett told The Sunday Footy Show that O'Brien spoke about social issues, including gay marriage, in a team meeting ahead of Friday night's clash against Carlton, and he took offence to a subsequent comment from Buckley.
O'Brien, who was ruled out of Friday's match with an ankle injury, was granted personal leave and flew to Port Douglas on Friday.
"I don't think it's a matter of his future at the Collingwood Football Club [being] up in the air. I definitely think he'll be back," Cloke told The Sunday Footy Show.
"There was an incident last week, a few words were spoken, but it's a private conversation between the group that was there.
"He's gone and had a couple of days to freshen up. He was obviously a little bit injured with his ankle. That was the main reason he was missing.
"We're looking forward to him coming back with a fresh mindset."
Cloke said O'Brien had sent his teammates a text message after leaving Melbourne and he was in regular communication with the group.
He said the defender, who has pushed onto a wing at times this season, was passionate about social issues and did not need to grow a thicker skin.
"He loves to express himself in numerous ways – we accept him for that and we love him for it as well," Cloke said.
"We've tried to develop an open conversation within the whole group and Harry felt he wanted to express himself and talk about a few issues as a lot of players do.
"He wasn't happy with something and that's Harry."
Cloke also defended Buckley, who has been questioned about a rift between certain players and the coaching group.
"There's nothing of that at the club," Cloke said.
"I love 'Bucks', he's been there for me over the last 12-18 months.
"He's probably the closest person that I've been with at a football club and I'm really enjoying it.
"I've had many heart to hearts with Nathan over the last 12 months and he's been a shoulder to cry on.
"He's been great to me and a lot of the other players see him that way as well."
Nathan Schmook is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @AFL_Nathan