Sidebottom to return for Magpies in AFL

Steele Sidebottom will return from AFL suspension against Fremantle but is no guarantee to captain Collingwood in Scott Pendlebury's absence.

STEELE SIDEBOTTOM.
STEELE SIDEBOTTOM. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images

Steele Sidebottom will return from suspension for Collingwood's AFL clash with Fremantle on Sunday.

Coach Nathan Buckley revealed the 29-year-old would be an automatic inclusion against the Dockers after completing his four-game ban for a COVID-19 protocol breach.

With Scott Pendlebury sidelined and fellow vice-captain Jeremy Howe out for the long term, Sidebottom will add a much-needed dose of on-field leadership and class.

"We've slowly had guys that we've seen either in our top echelon of talent or in leadership positions depart the side for different circumstances over the last sort of month-to-six-weeks," Buckley told reporters on Thursday.

"So getting Steele back will be important for us both in an experience, capacity and in a leadership capacity.

"He's served his penance. He's worked pretty hard on the track and we'll welcome him back on the field.

"He's not going to be the panacea, he's not the curer of all evils but he will play his role and be a big contributor as he's always been."

Sidebottom kept his vice-captaincy and place in Collingwood's leadership group despite his indiscretion, but won't necessarily lead the Pies in Pendlebury's absence.

Buckley said the club would discuss whether Sidebottom or fellow vice-captain Taylor Adams would be skipper against the Dockers.

"We have a fairly flat structure in our leadership and Steele'll thicken the soup with that," Buckley said.

"We'll work out who'll say heads or tails for us at the beginning of the game between now and Sunday."

Veteran Travis Varcoe (rib) has been cleared to play after missing the Eagles clash, while Tom Langdon and Levi Greenwood will return from long-term injuries via a scratch match this week.

The Pies are about to enter a fixture crunch, with Sunday's match kicking off a run of four games in 14 days that includes matches in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide.

But Buckley was confident the Magpies' depth would alleviate any challenges the tight turnarounds presented.

"We've got a depth of players there that we know are actually playing some pretty good football," he said.

"We're not afraid of the compressed fixture. We'll be able to run out with a really balanced and competitive 22 that we think can play our football for four quarters every week."


AAP