COLLINGWOOD star Darcy Moore is set to return for this weekend's clash against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval after passing a fitness test at the AIA Centre on Thursday, but young gun Isaac Quaynor has been ruled out.
Moore will be named on Thursday night to face the Crows, but the Magpies still want to see how the key defender recovers before he makes the trip to South Australia.
The All-Australian missed last Saturday's narrow escape against North Melbourne after suffering bone bruising and capsule damage to his knee, following a nasty moment in the dying moments of Collingwood's win over Gold Coast in round 16.
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Moore was cleared of an ACL tear and any structural damage to his knee and looks set to resume his season in a major boost for the Magpies' undermanned defence.
"He's still got to pull up well tomorrow, but he trained really well. We are confident he will play. We will name him tonight," McRae told reporters on Thursday.
"We thought he was a chance last week and he didn't quite get to the line. He was always confident. But there was an unknown until he trained and today he trained and trained really well with a smile on his face."
Quaynor has entered the AFL's health and safety protocols and is expected to be available for next Sunday's game against Essendon at the MCG.
"Unfortunately, 'Q' has COVID, so he won't play," McRae said.
"It is the nature of what's going around at the moment. We've just got to adapt to what comes with it."
Collingwood is tightening its directions around travel and movement in the wake of an increase in cases across the AFL and community this month.
Captain Scott Pendlebury will become just the 20th player in AFL/VFL history to play 350 games this weekend, adding another milestone to his phenomenal CV.
McRae said the reason behind the six-time All-Australian and five-time Copeland Trophy winner's longevity is the way he dots his i's and crosses his t's between each game.
"He is so meticulous with his preparation," he said.
"I talked to the group on Monday about wanting to do Pendles justice this week; we don't really want to make it about one person or emotion, but if we prepare as well as Pendles does, we will be well suited. His preparation is like no one else I've seen."
Despite recent speculation regarding the future of dual All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy, McRae said the club wants the South Australian – who is still contracted for five more seasons and nearing a return from a PCL injury – to remain at the AIA Centre.
"Do we want Brodie Grundy here? Yes, we do," he said.
"I'm really excited by watching him progress from injury; he is only a couple of weeks away from playing. I think in this competition you always need to keep getting better. You can't stand still. Where can we get improvement in the next six weeks? I think Brodie can give us significant improvement, particularly in our centre bounces."
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Collingwood will be forced to make at least two changes to the side that overran the Kangaroos last weekend, with Taylor Adams also ruled out of the clash against the Crows after entering concussion protocols.
The match committee might reward the strong VFL form of Fin Macrae or Trent Bianco, who both produced dominant performances against North Melbourne's VFL side on the weekend.
The Magpies will be chasing an eighth straight win on Saturday and the prospect of finishing the weekend inside the top four if results fall their way.