COLLINGWOOD is likely to be without Levi Greenwood for at least its round-one clash against the Brisbane Lions after the recruit suffered an ankle injury on Saturday night.
Greenwood hurt his right ankle when it became trapped underneath Jarrad Grant as he tackled him in the third quarter of the Pies' 61-point loss to the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium
Greenwood limped off, unable to put weight through it, and didn't return to the field.
"We don't know how severe it is," Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley admitted afterwards.
"It was bad enough for him to not be able to play on.
"We'll have to go and assess that but he's likely to miss weeks - we just don't know how many."
After a disappointing performance, Buckley conceded his midfield mix for the Lions' clash on April 4 was less settled than it had been a few weeks ago.
As many as 14 players could play in a VFL practice match against Richmond on Thursday, including Saturday's omissions Ben Kennedy, Patrick Karnezis and Tim Broomhead.
"When they (the Magpies not playing) look at the performances tonight, they might see a few opportunities and there will be – we're looking for blokes to step up," Buckley said.
"I thought Tay (Taylor Adams) battled away inside really well, Swanny (Dane Swan) is starting to get some game time into him off a slow preparation pre-Christmas, Pendles (Scott Pendlebury) is two games in after not playing Hawthorn.
"Steele (Sidebottom) is up and about, (he has) had a heavy load so he'll be right to go.
"Jack Crisp did all right in that second half when required.
"We've got plenty of blokes who can go through there, it's just about how effective we are in that midfield mix."
Before his injury, Greenwood had been tasked with stopping star Bulldogs youngster Marcus Bontempelli.
The new Pie had succeeded in briefly curbing the influence of Bontempelli, who started the game with a 15-disposal first quarter.
Buckley said he would continue to experiment with who could take on the tagging role left vacant by the injured Brent Macaffer with Greenwood sidelined.
"There might be a Jack Crisp, it might be a Taylor Adams … we'll need to have a look at that over that next month or so while Levi is likely to be out as well,” he said.
Meanwhile, the midfield depth of the Bulldogs looked depleted three weeks ago when Tom Liberatore suffered a season-ending knee injury in Luke Beveridge's first game in charge.
It meant the rookie coach's engineroom would be without last year's best and fairest winner - not to mention the off-season losses of the Dogs' former captain Ryan Griffen, who defected to Greater Western Sydney, and Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne) and Adam Cooney (Essendon).
But Beveridge said on Saturday the form of Bontempelli and the willingness of Jack Macrae, Luke Dahlhaus and Mitch Wallis to stand up, plus the contributions from the likes of Brett Goodes and Mitch Honeychurch, helped cover the losses.
"It's really encouraging," Beveridge said.
"We're going to need to share the load and they did tonight.
"That's crucial for us to get to where we want to go as quickly as possible, that we find more lads to stand up in through that midfield."
Collingwood midfielder Levi Greenwood shows the effects of his ankle injury. Picture: AFL Media
Bontempelli finished with 29 touches and three goals in a performance Beveridge said could make him the marked man for taggers this season.
"We all know he's a very talented player and we can't constrain him, we need to let him loose and explore where he can take his game," he said.
"There's no doubt if he plays like he did tonight regularly then he'll receive adequate attention from the opposition.
"But if his teammates are sharing the load with him and he can play anywhere - he's going to be a difficult challenge for most teams."