Nathan Buckley
Nathan Buckley

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley has refused to rule out either Luke Ball or Scott Pendlebury as potential captain candidates for the coming AFL season.

The club is in the process of deciding its leadership group for 2013, with speculation over whether or not captain Nick Maxwell still warrants a spot in the first team.

While Buckley claimed he would fully support Maxwell retaining the role, the coach said the final decision was out of his hands.

"Personally, I've got no reason why Maxy wouldn't be (captain)," Buckley said.

"Our players will choose their own leadership group, who they choose to follow and who leads positively."

Buckley did reveal the role would go to either Maxwell, vice-captain Pendlebury or Ball and was particularly supportive of the latter, a player he believes would step into the role easily despite missing much of last season due to a knee injury suffered in Round 3.

"I think Bally has been a great leader, you are easily forgotten when you've had to carry an injury all season and you haven't been able to perform on-field," the coach said.

"We all love our leaders to be the best-performed players and have career-best seasons year-in, year-out. Unfortunately Bally wasn't able to influence on the field last year, but did so off the field.
"But I reckon it's fair to say that those three are the standout leaders for us."

Ball's injury has hampered his pre-season preparations, with Buckley acknowledging the 28-year-old would be "unlikely" to feature in the NAB Cup and is no guarantee to be fit for the Pies' first game of the season against North Melbourne.

The injury concerns for the club do not end there, with star midfielder Dale Thomas only recently getting out of a moonboot he was forced to wear due to ankle surgery.

Buckley conceded he was not totally sure when Thomas would begin training but has tentatively put a three-week time-frame on his potential return.

"We'd like to get him sort of out on the track in three weeks' time but that's putting a figure on it. Clearly he could be back earlier, he could be later, but he's progressing fairly well," Buckley said.

"He still needs to get some solid work in on the track in preparation before we can even contemplate playing him."

"He's getting a lot of touch inside, we've been able to work specifically on his strength and he's definitely sick of the bike - he's pretty keen to progress and get load-bearing as soon as possible and we're not far away.

The Pies have also addressed the issue of youngster Marley Williams' behaviour this week, ordering the 19-year-old to perform ten weeks of community service with the Salvation Army after he was involved in a late-night scuffle in Albany over the Christmas break.

Williams is due to face a committal hearing next week and while Buckley said the law would cast its own eye over the incident he was happy with the way the club and Williams himself have dealt with the situation.

"He will start this evening (with the Salvos). The guys send a van out, it's basically a soup van. It goes around and spends time with the homeless throughout Melbourne city," Buckley said.

"We just feel it's a good opportunity for Marley to see a different side of things and we'll be supporting him with our leaders attending each week as he goes through that community service that we think is appropriate.

"We think Marley's got a solid character. He's not perfect, he's made a mistake, he understands that (and) he's been very remorseful about it. We feel that the sanction we put in place is appropriate for our value system. Clearly the law will decide where it sits in its value system but we believe it was important for us to act appropriately."


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