The true extent of Pies’ injury woe
JAMIE Elliott could return from a nine-week hamstring recovery on Thursday as the full extent of Collingwood's injury toll is laid bare.
The Pies star is considered a strong likelihood of playing in an intraclub game at the Holden Centre as the second-placed Pies navigate a VFL bye.
Champion Data statistics show Collingwood and Carlton have both lost 156 games to injury this year - the most in the competition.
Yet despite having their list decimated at times this year, coach Nathan Buckley believes the Pies have turned into a more resilient team.
They take on West Coast on Sunday at the MCG hoping to put a one-game gap on the Eagles in a bid to lock down a top-two spot.
If Elliott plays after successive hamstring injuries it will be after the Pies attempted to drill down into the reasons behind his soft-tissue concerns.
Darcy Moore was strong in his return from eight weeks out with hamstring strains but could need another run in Thursday's intraclub game.
Josh Smith kicked three goals but will need more VFL time while Travis Varcoe has played two VFL games and is the most likely for a senior recall.
Moore had 16 possessions, five marks and only 59 ranking points, with Varcoe having five tackles and six score involvements but kicking at 20 per cent efficiency with his 13 disposals.
The Pies will have to replace Flynn Appleby, out for a month with a hamstring strain, and hope Will Hoskin-Elliott is available with a bruised shin.
Buckley confirmed after the gritty win over Essendon that he had played on to help the Pies rotate and ensure the Bombers used a quality defender to man him up.
Collingwood has had several seasons under Buckley ruined by injury, twice hitting 8-3 at the midpoint of the season to then slump from finals contention.
Yet this year they have taken those injuries in their stride as Jamie Elliott (zero games), Moore (four games), Alex Fasolo (one game) and Ben Reid (six games) have been sidelined.
In contrast Richmond has again been blessed with a superb run, their players missing a league-fewest 61 games through injury.
Daniel Rioli missed the first dozen games of the season, while Bachar Houli and Dion Prestia have also battled with soft-tissue concerns.
Carlton's 18th-placing is at least partly explained by them matching Collingwood for games lost by injury - 156 games for the season.
Buckley explained after the win over Essendon that the Pies wanted to build enough depth to buffer the injury storms that came their way.
"Darcy went well, our VFL team had a really good win and Darcy played well, Varcs got through really well and Josh Smith (hamstring) played his first game back," he said.
"Our profile is looking a little bit better but in the end we have the same challenge every team has and we have got to have guys who can come in and play their role for the team.
"We are confident we have got a squad set up with the capabilities to do that.
"Bar a five-minute patch in the third term Will wasn't able to do a great deal but he held his end up.
"He does get attention so we were able to draw a defender to him and that takes guts to be able to run around when you are clearly less than 100 per cent."