Craig McRae is unsure what effect a seven-week lay-off will have on Collingwood superstar Nick Daicos when he returns to action in the AFL preliminary final against GWS.
Daicos has overcome a knee injury and will replace Taylor Adams (hamstring) in what looms as the Magpies' only forced change for Friday night's sold-out MCG blockbuster.
Whether the midfield maestro can immediately rekindle the form that made him a hot Brownlow Medal favourite before he was hurt in round 21 remains to be seen.
If he can, it will be a huge boost to Collingwood's chances of progressing to their first season decider in five years.
"Those questions are hard to answer," McRae told reporters on Wednesday.
"He's training well but he's missed a lot of footy, so we've got to be conscious of that.
"He might start forward, he might start mid.
"It's a great weapon to have when you're bringing back one of your best players.
"He looks like he's hungry and ready to go. He's trained on and on ... we'll use him where we need him."
McRae admitted he wasn't always confident Daicos would return this season after the 20-year-old sustained a hairline fracture in his right knee.
Initial estimates were that Daicos would require a six-week rehabilitation period.
"There was some concern," McRae said.
"When a bone has to heal, no one knows what time that's going to be.
"There's an estimation and there's a hope but still there's a lot of things that need to happen.
"It's a credit to the medical staff and then to him for following the plan, and now he gets back with an opportunity to play."
Daicos trained fully with teammates in front of hundreds of fans at Olympic Park on Wednesday, as did captain Darcy Moore, who has been battling a wrist complaint.
"It's settled down reasonably well," McRae said.
"It was probably more sore going into the Essendon game (in round 24) and sort of lingered a little bit, so I don't think it will be an issue."
Adams, whose finals series last year was ruined by a groin injury, was on light duties on his 30th birthday.
The Magpies remain hopeful their vice-captain will be cleared to return if they reach the grand final.
"He's progressing really well. It was a minor hamstring strain and what that means is he's a chance," McRae said.
"You would see the work he's doing. He's in a race against the clock but we've got to get their first."