COLLINGWOOD will put a week of turmoil behind it by turning to a feel-good story and naming father-son Will Kelly for his AFL debut on Friday night against Hawthorn.
With embattled stars Steele Sidebottom and Jordan De Goey heading straight to Perth ahead of next week's hub, the Pies will look to end a run of back-to-back losses on neutral territory at Giants Stadium.
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Kelly, the 194cm son of 1990 premiership player Craig, will play as key forward, placing the position of out-of-form big man Mason Cox in doubt.
While coach Nathan Buckley wouldn't confirm Cox's spot, he said Pies players were looking forward to playing with the 19-year-old Kelly, who has overcome two years of ankle and hamstring injuries.
"His pre-season was super, moving him forward late last year we think has been a good move and his form has been that consistent that he's warranted his opportunity," Buckley said on Wednesday.
Selected as a defender at pick 29 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, Kelly played just four games for the Pies' VFL side in his debut season last year.
His selection could see the Pies field five father-son players should Darcy Moore (son of Peter), Josh Daicos (Peter) and Callum and Tyler Brown (Gavin) all retain their places.
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Sidebottom wasn't part of the side that lost to Essendon last week, serving the first of his four-week ban for breaking COVID-19 rules late last month.
The vice-captain is still yet to address the matter face-to-face with Buckley and Pies head of football Geoff Walsh.
Less than 24 hours after the Bombers' loss, the Pies were also hit with news that De Goey had been charged with indecent assault for an incident dating back to 2015.
After coming into contact with members of the public outside the AFL bubble during the legal process, De Goey was informed he needed to pass two COVID-19 tests before re-joining his teammates.
Given he was unable to do so before teammates departed for Sydney on Sunday, the forward was sent straight to Perth on Tuesday ahead of the rest of the Pies' arrival following the clash with the Hawks on Saturday.
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"If you have done wrong and it's splashed over the papers or you're in a public existence, it's going to be a little bit difficult to handle that as much as your own conscience, I suppose, to deal with your role in the situation you're in," Buckley said.
"I hope that both of the boys are thinking about how they can contribute to the football club and become better people from their experiences, whether it's public or it's private.
"We drive that as much as we possibly can.
"They're not perfect people and they've been hauled publicly over the coals at the moment, and we will continue to support them as much as we can while holding them to account especially internally with what we're aware of."
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Buckley said he had no issue with president Eddie McGuire's hypocritical defence of Sidebottom last week which came after he called for players who break COVID-19 procotols to be suspended for the rest of 2020 when speaking in April.
"I can understand the focus on that and there's been a fair bit of commentary about it," Buckley said.
"What I would say, is that Ed, as the president, is entitled to make whatever comments he wishes about the football club at any time.
"He does find himself in front of a microphone or a camera quite often given his role (in the media) but the actual football program itself, once the board puts people in positions, we operate quite separate."
Buckley also conceded the uncertainty around the players' departure date from Melbourne heading into last week's game contributed to the loss.
"Our boys reflected on the fact that the lack of real clarity around what their futures were affected them for the first time this year.
"We've addressed that a little bit better and we've been able to narrow our focus."
Before heading west for a minimum of three weeks, Collingwood face Hawthorn, a side it has lost to in 12 of the its past 13 meetings.