Magpies mentally stronger, says Buckley

Melissa Woods
Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his team are better prepared to challenge for the AFL finals

Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley admits his AFL team weren't ready to handle success the last time they challenged for finals in 2015.

Ahead of their clash against old foes Carlton at the MCG on Sunday, when the Magpies are expected to bank their ninth win of the season, Buckley reflected on the last time his team were in such a position.

In 2015 Collingwood were sitting fourth heading into their round-12 bye.

But they lost the next three games by 10 points or less which Buckley said shattered their confidence, with the team only winning another two games for the season as they plummeted out of contention.

"We probably just weren't ready as a group," Buckley said on Thursday.

"It's easy to look retrospectively and say that ... we had a narrow loss to Hawthorn and then lost to a goal to Freo and then to Port Adelaide by three points.

"It seemed to me like our spirit was broken a little bit at that point, even at eight (wins) and six (losses) and we weren't able to maintain our positive momentum."

Buckley felt the current squad was better equipped to deal with such adversity.

"It's more resilient and more ready and we've got a deeper squad," the coach said.

After accounting for fellow contenders Melbourne in their last outing, the Magpies are expected to romp home against the lowly Blues.

Last round Carlton went goalless in the first half against Fremantle while allowing them to kick 12 goals.

But Buckley said they wouldn't "fall" for Carlton's last performance and said the Blues had shown in other games they were a better team than that.

"Their two games leading into the bye, against Geelong and Sydney, were probably more of an indication for us," said Buckley.

"They defended really well, competed really well, and the contest and clearance work was strong and they fought two top four sides all the way.

"We won't be lowering our guard."

One of the highlights of the match is expected to be the clash of young bulls - the Magpies' Jordan De Goey and Carlton's Patrick Cripps.

Confirming that the Magpies had opened negotiations to extend De Goey's contract, Buckley said the 22-year-old would split his time between playing forward and in the midfield against Cripps.

"Patty Cripps has been executing that role as well as anyone - he's a big bodied midfielder and Jordy is a big body as well," he said.

On the injury front, Buckley said midfielder Travis Varcoe would likely need another week of training as he recovered from a hamstring injury, while Jarryd Blair suffered the same fate at training on Monday.