Nathan Buckley says Collingwood star Jordan De Goey is physically and mentally ready to return in Thursday night's AFL blockbuster against Geelong in Perth.
The Magpies opted to leave De Goey out of last week's win over Hawthorn in Sydney after he was charged with indecent assault over an incident that occurred in 2015.
The star forward-midfielder flew to the club's new Perth hub ahead of his teammates, as did suspended vice-captain Steele Sidebottom and veteran tall Ben Reid.
De Goey trained on Tuesday and shapes as an almost certain inclusion in the Magpies' side to take on fellow flag hopefuls Geelong at Optus Stadium.
"Physically he's in great shape, mentally and emotionally he seems good," Buckley said.
"To be back in and amongst the group I think has been good for both he and Steele and Ben Reid."
Sidebottom will miss the Geelong clash and next week's meeting with West Coast as he completes a four-game ban for multiple breaches of the AFL's strict coronavirus protocols during a late-night drinking session last month.
The 29-year-old has agreed to complete a responsible consumption of alcohol course and charity work over the next 12 months.
Sidebottom has apologised to his teammates, the club and supporters for his transgressions, but Buckley said the All-Australian midfielder's role as Magpies vice-captain was never in doubt.
"The actual title of vice-captain was not a consideration," Buckley said.
"His leadership position is not diminished either, I suppose, other than his most recent form has been not to his own liking or to ours.
"He's got some work to do on that and we fully believe that he's got the capacity to do so."
It appears increasingly likely that Victorian clubs will have to spend more time on the road than the five weeks initially planned for as the state battles its latest COVID-19 outbreak.
But Buckley said he is still in the dark about the AFL's plans beyond Collingwood's minimum three-match stint in Perth.
"The AFL have informally mentioned the possibility of an extra week or two on the end of (round nine)," Buckley said.
"What that looks like, we're not sure."
Australian Associated Press