Collingwood’s American giant Mason Cox will be left out of the Magpies’ team that takes on Richmond in Thursday night’s AFL season restart.
After struggling with knee problems during the coronavirus break, Cox will instead play in a reserves scratch match on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old’s absence opens the door for ruckman Darcy Cameron to play his first game for the Magpies after arriving from Sydney during the off-season.
But Collingwood could also play just one genuine big man, All-Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy, in preference for extra running depth against the Tigers to deal with shortened quarters.
Magpies coach Nathan Buckley said he won’t risk taking an underdone Cox into a high-pressured match against the reigning premiers.
“He’s just missed a couple of match practice sessions, pretty much eight quarters of our preparation,” Buckley told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“We’re going in with our hardest, fittest team and the players that are most ready for round two.
“Coxy just falls short of that; his preparation hasn’t been great, unfortunately.
“I don’t think he’s far away, but we want to get this body of work into him on Wednesday night and see how he goes.”
Cox kicked two goals in Collingwood’s thumping round one victory over the Western Bulldogs in March.
Richmond coach Damien Hardwick says star defender Bachar Houli is on track to play despite being troubled with a calf injury.
“He played two quarters in our scratch match (last Thursday) and did some extra running alongside that so we’re really confident Bachar will be available to play,” he told Fox Footy.