Magpies expect Demons to rise above drama

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Collingwood coach Craig McRae isn't counting on Melbourne's off-field dramas and form dip making the Demons vulnerable in Monday's Queen's Birthday blockbuster.

Previously unbeaten, Melbourne have suffered successive losses to Fremantle and Sydney while teammates Steven May and Jake Melksham are on the sidelines after fighting in a restaurant on the weekend.

Text messages from 2020 between current president Kate Roffey and predecessor Glen Bartlett, featuring criticisms of the team, have also surfaced.

But McRae said the reigning premiers were still the benchmark team and the Magpies would have to be at their best.

"I guess we will find out Monday afternoon (how it's affected them)," McRae said on Thursday.

"We're trying to concentrate on ourselves and trying to prepare as best we can.

"We understand they're clearly the best team in the competition for the past 18 months and we will have to bring our best."

Jamie Elliot trained Thursday and will make his return in the annual Big Freeze fund-raising match after being a late withdrawal last week due to illness.

However fellow star forward Brody Mihocek is in doubt after suffering a knock to his knee in their win over Hawthorn, which was their third on the trot and propelled them into the eight.

"There is a slight concern, he's not going to train much this week and we have to manage him," McRae said.

"We've otherwise trained well so we're setting ourselves up to play well."

Polarising youngster Jack Ginnivan has been in the headlines for allegedly drawing head-high contact and McRae said he'd spoken to the teen forward this week.

"I had some private conversations with Jack ... just about the player he wants to be in the future," McRae said.

"I will keep that between him and I but I said to the whole group that I will have your back as long as you play for the team and do the right things for us and it was similar message along those lines."

McRae said that Demons captain and ruckman Max Gawn was at his best last round despite their 12-point loss to the Swans, and would present a huge challenge for Darcy Cameron.

First choice Brodie Grundy was at training minus his knee brace with McRae saying he was on target to return in four to six weeks.

"Max played probably the best game I've seen him play," the coach said.

"You can only do what you can but we'll have some game plan tinkers to match what Max does."

COVID-19 has prevented the Queen's Birthday clash being held in Melbourne since 2019 while the Magpies boast a strong record, winning four of their last five meetings.

Last year at the SCG, in then coach Nathan Buckley's last match, they upset the Demons.

McRae was happy with the progress his team were making through the season.

"It's a natural progression of a team that's starting with a new game plan, new coach; it's going to have ebbs and flows," McRae added.

"I think the last three weeks we're edging toward the team we want to be."

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