Sport AFL AFL: Injuries force Buckley’s inconsistent Magpies to adapt
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AFL: Injuries force Buckley’s inconsistent Magpies to adapt

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Brody Mihocek (left) and Max Lynch learning to adapt at training on Friday. Photo: AAP
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Adaptation is the key for an injury-hit Collingwood as it looks to find consistent form ahead of an AFL finals finish.

Big man Mason Cox’s season-ending eye injury ensures a more mobile forward line will be rolled out on Saturday when the Magpies face Melbourne at the MCG.

His replacement Jack Madgen stands at 192cm, as does the tallest incumbent forward Brody Mihocek.

The sixth-placed Magpies are also grappling with the absence of Jordan De Goey (hamstring) and Jaidyn Stephenson (suspension).

De Goey is a chance to play in the final two rounds but Stephenson won’t return until the finals, and the young speedster has been sorely missed.

Nathan Buckley could still smile on Friday despite his club’s injury woes. Photo: Getty

Coach Nathan Buckley says the Pies will be forced to balance tinkering with personnel and producing a style of play that will hold up in September.

“We have a couple of weeks to work out what is going to be best for us to prepare for the rest of our campaign,” Buckley said on Friday.

“We have a few different ideas on what that looks like. But we’ve got to explore that, we’ve got to chase it.

We need to be proactive to find a balance that may even be better than one that we’ve had in the past.”

The chances of veteran Daniel Wells playing again look increasingly slim after he failed a fitness test.

“He won’t play VFL this week,” Buckley said of the 34-year-old.

“We’ve got a bye next week so he’s looking to play in two weeks’ time. It was a little bit of conditioning and just a general feel from both he and the medicos that they wanted to get a couple more weeks in before they rolled him out.”

The Pies’ form has been mixed in recent weeks but Buckley noted they had made last year’s grand final off a similar starting point.

“The position we were in last year was exactly the same spot on the ladder with more guys unavailable,” he said.

“And we were able to look after the last six or seven weeks of the season last year and give ourselves a real shot at it.

“We don’t see ourselves in too dissimilar a situation, really. It’s on us to make the most of the situation, to bring our best to the table.”

-AAP