COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley is adamant the AFL must find a way for non-selected footballers to play this year despite them not being able to compete in state leagues.
The AFL is contemplating alternative arrangements for listed players who miss senior selection, after banning them from second-tier competitions because of the COVID-19 crisis.
FOOTY'S BACK AFL confirms return date
AFL.com.au revealed this week those footballers could instead take part in scratch matches against players at other clubs in the same position.
They will be subjected to the same twice-a-week coronavirus testing protocols as their playing peers and the 25 football department staff allowed to be at the training facility.
"One of the concerns, and it's not just a physical or match fitness concern, but it's probably as much their mental and emotional wellbeing," Buckley told Channel Nine on Sunday.
"They will want to compete and will want to play football and will want to be able to put their hands up for selection.
DRAMATIC CUTS What the 25-person footy department might look like
"It sounds like there's a little bit of a groundswell towards the backend of lists being able to play against one another, so, say, we play Geelong in late June, that we would have a scratch match, in lieu of a VFL game, with the Geelong list.
"It makes a lot of sense to me … it would go a long way to maintaining the motivation of the depth of the list throughout the season."
The Magpies are tipped to kick off round two against Richmond in a Thursday night blockbuster on June 11, with the fixture for the following four to six rounds set to be released at some stage in the next week.
"I've heard a lot about a lot over the last six, seven or eight weeks and what's true today may not be true tomorrow, with the changing environment," Buckley said.
"But if that is to be, we will get started at some point, and if June 11 is the date that things kick off and we're a part of it, we wouldn't say no."
NEW FIXTURE Double-headers on the cards
Buckley was confident the training lead-up to games would be adequate, including resuming in groups of eight from Monday, then twice-weekly full-contact sessions from May 25.
"You're not going to be able to have everything ideally prepared from a time perspective and even from a staffing perspective, given the situation we're in," he said.
"So every club is going to have to work to their own restraints and constraints to their best fit.
"The Perth and Adelaide clubs have got different issues to the other 14 clubs in the competition but, for us, we feel like a four-week preparation is going to be OK with us."
West Coast, Fremantle, Adelaide and Port Adelaide are relocating to the Gold Coast for at least the first month of the interrupted season.
The finer details of how that will work and how long it could last are to be determined but Buckley said he would sell the advantages of the hub to his players if he was in that situation.
GILL'S DAILY LOG 1260 negative test results and counting
"There's no doubt there are going to be some challenges for those teams – very different to the other 14, as we've mentioned," he said.
"I've got no doubt the AFL will, in some way, try to mitigate the disadvantages they may face but if you're in those camps you're actually looking for the advantages as well."
Collingwood started the season with a resounding 52-point victory over fellow flag fancy the Western Bulldogs on March 20, and Buckley was hopeful his side could maintain that standard.
Adam Treloar (hamstring) is the big addition who will have benefited from the shutdown, while Travis Varcoe (shoulder), Ben Reid (ankle) and Matt Scharenberg (hip) should also be fit.