Magpie Nick Daicos won't return for Demons AFL final

Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS

Collingwood coach Craig McRae has ruled young star Nick Daicos out of a surprise return from injury in Thursday's AFL qualifying final against Melbourne.

On Sunday, Daicos started running for the first time since sustaining a hairline fracture in his right knee in round 21.

The 20-year-old completed run-throughs away from Collingwood's main training group, gradually building up speed.

But facing the Demons at the MCG on Thursday night had always appeared unlikely.

"He's not quite right unfortunately," McRae told SEN radio on Monday.

"But I think we all knew that, I just didn't want to admit to it at one stage - just let it take its own course.

"This one's clearly a medical decision not a football decision."

The Magpies were clearly buoyed by Daicos striding out on his own on Sunday.

"I saw Nick run yesterday and I went over as he was just doing his first strides and I'm like fist-pumping 'Yes', and just seen this one small step for man, one giant leap for Collingwood," McRae joked.

"It's a nice thing to see him progressing."

The Magpies are confident Daicos will be available for the second week of the finals if required - while he would have an additional week's preparation if they beat Melbourne.

"He's probably a week away from being in serious discussion for selection," McRae said.

"He wasn't able to run until yesterday, clearly that was always going to be an uphill battle to play on Thursday if he was only running yesterday.

"But he did, he ran well and it looks like he's going to pull up well and keep progressing.

"I think the next steps are going to be really quick - there should be a change of direction and all these other parts; I saw the footballs come into it a little bit yesterday.

"There's a timeline that I've attached to it and then you are relying on no swelling and other things. They can often hold the player back."

McRae confirmed skipper Darcy Moore (hamstring) and fellow defender Nathan Murphy (ankle) would play on Thursday.