COLLINGWOOD key forward Brody Mihocek will return against Melbourne on Friday night, but star ruckman Brodie Grundy isn't expected to play at any level this weekend.
Mihocek missed last Saturday's six-point win over Port Adelaide due to hip soreness, but the 29-year-old passed a fitness test at the AIA Centre on Thursday.
Key defender Jeremy Howe has also been under an injury cloud this week due to a corked buttock, but the Magpies vice-captain has been given the green light to play.
"They'll play," Collingwood coach Craig McRae told reporters on Thursday morning.
"We were confident after training the other day that they'd get up, so they'll be available."
Grundy reported ankle soreness following training on Tuesday, after playing managed minutes in the VFL at Victoria Park on Saturday in his first appearance since Anzac Day.
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The Magpies were initially considering recalling Grundy for tomorrow night's clash at the MCG, but his return will now be delayed by at least a week.
After ruling the dual All-Australian out of AFL selection on Wednesday, McRae doesn't expect Grundy to play in the VFL game against Williamstown on Saturday.
"He didn't train this morning. We were hoping he would get up and train with the VFL this morning and he didn't do that," McRae said.
"I would say that he is probably unlikely to play VFL this week. We'll assess over the weekend."
McRae said Grundy could still return against Sydney in round 22, despite the setback delaying his return to the senior side.
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"I was happy with the minutes he played in the VFL. He just pulled up sore. Obviously we don't want that; we want him to be fresh and vibrant and bring his best energy," he said.
"We'll just have to assess over the weekend. Hopefully he pulls up from that and then we can progress from there. His knee is fine, he's just getting a little bit of ankle soreness, which we are monitoring."
With Grundy to miss a 14th straight game, Collingwood will stick with Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox against five-time All-Australian Max Gawn and rising star Luke Jackson.
Collingwood vice-captain Taylor Adams has been ruled out for the rest of the home and away season due to a groin injury.
McRae said the 28-year-old wouldn't be available for the first week of the finals if there wasn't a pre-finals bye, but is still facing a race against the clock to be fit in time.
"We're aiming for that, that's our aim. There is a bit to play out there, but our aim is for him to be right for the first week of the finals," he said.
"I think he's going to need all that time to be right again. I'm not sure how quick he heals, but we'll put a plan in place for him to play that first week of the finals."
Collingwood is in the top four with three rounds to play, but will need to navigate a tough run home – Sydney and Carlton after Melbourne – to secure a double chance.