Howe to return as Magpies eye response against Swans

Anna Harrington |

The Pies are hopeful premiership winner Jeremy Howe will be back from injury to face Sydney.
The Pies are hopeful premiership winner Jeremy Howe will be back from injury to face Sydney.

Collingwood will welcome back veteran defender Jeremy Howe against Sydney as coach Craig McRae puts the heat on the reigning premiers to get back to basics.

Howe missed Collingwood’s opening-round loss to GWS with a calf injury but trained well in Wednesday’s main session and appears set for the Magpies’ return to the MCG on Friday night.

“We are confident he got through,” McRae said.

“It looks like we’re going to select him.

“We haven’t done that yet but probably more than likely we will select him then see how he pulls up tomorrow.”

Howe will bring important aerial presence, experience and leadership to Collingwood’s defence.

McRae lamented the Magpies’ failure to get the little things right in their loss to the Giants.

“We went through a tape and really concentrated on the things we can control,” McRae said.

“There’s a lot within our four walls, we thought we could do a lot better.

“It’s amazing the little things that we just didn’t get right. Simple things, so simple, that we’ve just gotta get back to and have great pride in those little things.”

When asked to elaborate, McRae said: “Well you’d be amazed – we didn’t even man the mark. Can you believe that?

“People having set shots which means that those two (examples) in particular, they resulted in goals.

“It doesn’t take much in this game to give someone a little bit of a chance. So some of those little things are as simple as manning the mark.

“So we will get back to work on our fundamentals and in a couple of days’ time hopefully we’ll see all those things.”

Craig McRae.
Magpies coach Craig McRae (L) leaves the ground after their disappointing loss to GWS. (Steven Markham/AAP PHOTOS)

McRae indicated midfielder Fin Macrae had forced his way into the side while Ash Johnson and Charlie Dean both appear likely to hold their spots.

The Magpies were also buoyed by Nathan Murphy’s return to some contact training on Wednesday.

There is still no timeline on the defender’s playing return after he was concussed in the grand final.

“It was really pleasing. Murph did his first contact work for this year,” McRae said.

“He’s in a program that will see him, five, six weeks, whatever it takes, to progress back to play.

“But it’s a week-by-week and it’s a session-by-session thing.”

McRae’s presser was a day after big man Mason Cox received a reprimand from the AFL for a bizarre incident ahead of the Giants clash, when he pushed GWS ruck Shane Mumford out of the way to practice a ball-up.

“I got told that he ran through the opposition huddle like Dermott Brereton used to,” McRae said with a laugh.

“Then when I saw the facts, I though ‘jeez, that’s far from that’.

“So it’s important to get all the information, isn’t it? And then you can make an informed decision.”