COLLINGWOOD midfielder Jordan De Goey will return for Saturday night's game against Gold Coast at Metricon Stadium, but Jeremy Howe has been ruled out in a massive blow for the Magpies.
Howe was a notable absentee from the Magpies' main training session in front of thousands of supporters at the AIA Centre on Thursday.
The mobile defender is expected to only miss the one game and return to the club next Monday after falling ill with a non-COVID related illness.
"'Howie' will be out," Collingwood coach Craig McRae told reporters on Thursday.
"He has unfortunately got a virus to his stomach. I'm not a doctor, so I won't get exactly into the details of it. Unfortunately he won't play this week.
"If the antibiotics do what they are meant to do, he will be back training on Monday. There is a bit to play out."
With veteran key defender Jordan Roughead forced to retire earlier this month, after Irishman Mark Keane decided not to return to Australia in January, Collingwood finds itself light-on for options down back against a forward line containing in-form bargain recruits Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult.
Collingwood will consider mature-age recruit Charlie Dean for his AFL debut in the absence of Howe, with Jack Magden another option in defence, despite the Magpies trialling him as a forward in the VFL last weekend. The pair only returned from injury in the VFL on the weekend.
Dean, who arrived at the Magpies via pick No.2 in last year's Rookie Draft after winning the Fothergill-Round-Mitchell Medal in the VFL, played his first game on the weekend after overcoming the long-term foot injury he suffered on the eve of the season.
"That will be a discussion. Last week he needed the run. I love setting people up to succeed. Whether we throw him in the deep end, I'm not sure if that's what we want to do. But again, his magnet is up there," McRae said.
McRae confirmed De Goey will return this weekend after taking personal leave from the club last week, following the mid-season trip to Bali that resulted in a $25,000 suspended sanction.
"'Jordy' will be there," he said.
"'Jordy' trained really well today; he trained with high energy the other day; he trained with high energy today. It looks like he is in a good place to perform well."
Dual All-Australian Brodie Grundy transitioned back into training this week for the first time since suffering a PCL injury against Essendon on Anzac Day.
The 28-year-old has missed the past eight games, but is expected to be at least three and potentially five weeks away from returning.
"I think it's going to be more like round 19, 20 or 21 even. It's a progression from here, he has only just started running," McRae said.
"He is back at training this week, so it looks like he is progressing to be available in four or five weeks."
Collingwood will travel to Queensland on Friday and hold its captain's run at Metricon Stadium ahead of Saturday night's game.