COLLINGWOOD midfielder Taylor Adams was a no-show and fullback Jordan Roughead left the training track early on Tuesday, raising serious doubts about whether the pair will play in the must-win encounter with bottom side Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday.
Adams was a late withdrawal from the clash with Richmond on Friday with hamstring tightness and would have been expected to complete the light session at Olympic Park if he was to return to face the Suns.
Roughead, who sat out the second half of the loss to the Tigers after suffering concussion, participated in early skill drills before joining a running group, departing during match simulation. However, a nine-day break between games might improve the big man's chances of recovering in time.
There was also no sign of Adam Treloar, the AFL's leading ball-winner this season, but his absence is believed to be related to workload management.
In some much-needed welcome news for fans of the sixth-placed Magpies amid the club's injury crisis, wingman Tom Phillips showed no sign of a reported collarbone or shoulder problem, moving freely and completing the full session.
Seasoned small defender Levi Greenwood also seems ready to return after missing the past two games, training fully before testing his minor hamstring ailment with sprint work.
The Pies might well have provided a clue to the undersized key defensive set-up they will employ against Gold Coast's tall forwards.
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Suns triple towers Peter Wright (203cm), young gun Ben King (202cm) and Sam Day (197cm) bagged nine goals between them in their team's narrow defeat to Essendon at Metricon Stadium on Sunday, and they loom as a serious threat for the depleted Pies.
Even if Roughead is passed fit, the Pies might need another tall option, and 193cm veteran Tyson Goldsack and 192cm mature-aged rookie Jack Madgen appear the chief candidates.
Madgen, the 26-year-old former basketballer, might have the inside running. After training, Collingwood defensive coach Justin Longmuir was locked in conversation with Madgen and 191cm Matt Scharenberg, which could suggest they will take on two of the Suns' three giants.
Scharenberg, who returned from a third knee reconstruction in round 15, played two games before being dropped, but was recalled to play as a key backman against Richmond.
Madgen, meanwhile, managed four AFL games last year when injuries hit and played another in the round 10 win over Sydney at the SCG. Though generally a lockdown player, he has averaged 19 possessions in his past six VFL games.
Is this a clue to the key defenders the Pies will use against the Suns’ giants? Defensive coach Justin Longmuir giving instructions to Scharenberg and Madgen. Story soon on @AFLcomau @CollingwoodFC pic.twitter.com/qttSgFTJE2— Ben Collins (@bencollocollins) July 30, 2019
The Pies will hope the cavalry is coming in the form of 203cm centre half-back Darcy Moore, who seems to be progressing well after his latest hamstring problem, which has sidelined him for a fortnight. Moore, who says he is still a few weeks away from returning, finished the session before completing a series of 150-metre sprints at near top speed.
Mid-season draftee John Noble is also running strongly after also missing the past two games with a corked calf he picked up on debut in the win over West Coast in round 17. The Pies would benefit from his speed and ball use from the back half.
Promising onballer Brayden Sier, who was sidelined for the Richmond clash with a calf issue, seems set to watch on from the stands again. The 21-year-old left the main group midway through training to do some individual running.
Veteran midfielder Daniel Wells (knee) participated in everything as he ramps up his bid for a late-season return.
A handful of Pies did little more than light running, including ruckman Brodie Grundy, key forward Brody Mihocek, runners Chris Mayne and Callum Brown and ex-basketballer-turned-Magpie-rookie Tom Wilson.
At the very least, the Magpies will need to make two changes following injuries to matchwinner Jordan de Goey (hamstring) and young defender Isaac Quaynor (foot).