COLLINGWOOD coach Nathan Buckley admits Mason Cox has fallen back in the Magpies' forward pecking order, with the marking target overlooked for Sunday's clash with West Coast.
Cox was a late withdrawal in last week's win over Geelong with wet weather circling, but the American key forward has been left out again for the heavyweight clash at Optus Stadium.
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Tall options Ben Reid and Darcy Cameron were both named in Collingwood's extended squad, with Buckley saying Cox, who has averaged six disposals and a goal in four games this season, needed to find form at scratch match level.
"It's hard to avoid the pecking order feel and the reality that at different times you are in competition with other people for the roles that you play in the side," Buckley said on Friday.
"Mason has an opportunity to go back and, whether it's one week or two weeks, to ply his trade and bring his strengths to the table.
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"Last week it was more than likely it was going to be wet so rather than make that change into that squad we thought that he was still a legitimate option for our tall target there if we needed it.
"Darcy and 'Reidy' at the moment have probably trained better and are showing better signs than Mason, but that leaves him going back and finding some form, bringing his strengths to the table and reasserting his claims to come back into our best side."
Collingwood's forward line remains an evolving group, with star forward Jordan De Goey expected to miss 10 weeks after finger surgery.
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De Goey booted five goals and was best afield in the Magpies' win last week, but Buckley backed his attack to be able to heap on the goals this season with the 24-year-old unavailable.
"We feel like our offence can improve and we can do a lot more in that space," Buckley said.
"I think we have shown signs in the last couple of weeks that our offence is starting to get up and about.
"Depending how the games are played over the next month, I'd expect us to score a lot more heavily in that next three or four weeks and establish more scoreboard pressure."
Apart from the major long-term absences of De Goey and Jeremy Howe (knee), the Pies have a healthy list heading into the condensed fixture block, where they'll play four games in 14 days.
The Pies had 41 players hit the track in Perth on Friday, with vice-captain Steele Sidebottom available next week against Fremantle after serving his four-game ban for COVID-19 protocol breaches.