Nick Daicos’ AFL debut is a shining light among several selection posers for Collingwood ahead of their season opener against St Kilda.
Former Western Bulldogs onballer Pat Lipinski will also play his first official match for the Magpies after overcoming an ankle injury.
But the Magpies have lost Will Hoskin-Elliott to COVID-19 protocols, while assistant coaches Brendon Bolton and Josh Fraser are also isolating at home.
Brayden Maynard’s two-game suspension and Jordan Roughead’s shoulder surgery means they will take a new-look defence into round one.
New coach Craig McRae confirmed the debuts for Daicos and Lipinski at the end of Wednesday morning training.
Daicos, the son of Magpies great Peter Daicos, has enjoyed an outstanding pre-season after he was recruited with the No.4 pick in last November’s national draft.
The 19-year-old younger brother of Josh Daicos, who will be a teammate on Friday, will wear the No.35 guernsey made famous by their father.
“We certainly know what he can bring to the table. He’s had a great pre-season,” McRae said.
“He’s an elite decision-maker. He has the ability to see the game that maybe others don’t see and his skill execution is really high.
“So they’re good attributes, aren’t they.”
McRae said any expectations about Daicos as he prepares for his debut are external.
“I didn’t talk about Nick the footballer (at training), I talked about Nick the person and Nick the person is just high character, high workrate, really professional and an engaging young man,” McRae said.
The Magpies recruited Lipinski in last year’s trade period to add midfield depth.
“He was starved of opportunity, he gets an opportunity with us and he hasn’t put a foot wrong,” McRae said.
McRae is confident that the Magpies have the depth to cover their backline absentees.
“There are a few missing, but we’re not playing short,” he said.
He added that Maynard’s suspension will give him the chance to spend more time in the midfield as he plays in the VFL.
“I look forward more than I look back and there’s an opportunity – we want to get Brayden through the midfield more than we had planned in the pre-season,” he said.
“So I said here’s two weeks, he can play in the VFL tomorrow, so he’s a chance to play a bit more in the midfield.”
Another player under the microscope will be star utility Jordan De Goey, who had a turbulent off-season after he was arrested in New York for a nightclub incident.
While he spent time away from the club, McRae is confident that De Goey is physically ready.
“Jordy has done slightly more work than what he did last year already, so he doesn’t have to make up ground, but maybe the impact and contact stuff, he hasn’t quite done as much as the others,” he said.
“But physically … he’s ready to go.”