COLLINGWOOD key forward Brody Mihocek is in doubt for the Queen's Birthday blockbuster on Monday, but Jamie Elliott is set to return against Melbourne at the MCG.
Mihocek is dealing with bone bruising in his knee following a knock in Sunday's thrilling four-point win over Hawthorn.
The 29-year-old was cleared of structural damage earlier in the week, but is not expected to train much with the main group between now and Monday, spending Thursday's training session watching on from a stationary bike.
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Mihocek has been a revelation since being plucked out of the VFL at the end of 2017 and placed on the Magpies' rookie list, playing 90 of 93 possible games since kicking four goals on debut against Fremantle in round 11, 2018.
The Tasmanian has led Collingwood's goalkicking in each of the past three seasons, kicking the most goals at the club since he was drafted, providing a key target in an undersized attack.
"There is a slight concern around him," Collingwood coach Craig McRae told reporters at a press conference on Thursday.
"He is not going to train much this week. He has got a bit of bone bruising. He hurt his knee halfway through the third quarter. We will have to manage him; he won't train much."
Elliott returned to the AIA Centre on Wednesday after being a late withdrawal ahead of Collingwood's clash against the Hawks on the weekend due to illness.
The 29-year-old trained on Thursday and is expected to face the Demons, replacing Reef McInnes, who was the late inclusion on Sunday before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.
Speaking ahead of Big Freeze 8 on Monday, McRae is wary of the reigning premiers, who have dropped the past two games against Fremantle and Sydney after winning 17 in a row, and have come under fire following a controversial incident on Sunday that led to Steven May being suspended and Jake Melksham requiring surgery to repair his hand.
"We just worry about getting our own backyard in order, to be honest. It's not something we'll talk about," McRae said.
"I must admit, we focus on what we're doing and trying to prepare ourselves the best we can. We understand they are clearly the best team in the competition for the last 18 months, so we will have to bring our best."
McRae revealed he has spent some time speaking to livewire small forward Jack Ginnivan this week about the way he goes about his business, following another game that put the teenager in the spotlight.
"I had some private conversations with Jack, but I'll keep them between him and I, just about the player he wants to be in the future. I won't add any more than that," he said.
"We want to have the back of all our players. I said to the whole group, 'I'll have your back as long as you're playing for the team and doing the right things for us.' The message was around those things."
McRae sought clarification from the AFL after Ginnivan wasn't paid several clear free kicks for high contact in the second half of Sunday's win over Sam Mitchell's side, a victory which propelled the Magpies back into the top eight at 7-5.
"We are all going to make mistakes. We don't see everything; we don't kick the ball perfectly; we don't mark the ball every time. We just move on," he said.
"I was just entertaining the thought was there anything in particular I missed? We're comfortable, we'll move on."
The Magpies defeated Melbourne in Nathan Buckley's final game as coach in last year's Queen's Birthday fixture at the SCG.
The marquee game returns to the MCG for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with Collingwood winning 13 of the 20 encounters since the fixture was introduced in 2001.