Collingwood defender John Noble has earned his spot for the upcoming clash against GWS in Opening Round on Saturday night, following a heartbreaking September last year.

Noble - who played 83 consecutive games - was left out of Craig McRae's side on the eve of the finals as the Pies went on to record a record-equalling 16th premiership.

The mid-season recruit was forced to watch from the sidelines as his teammates won three exhilarating finals by a combined margin of 12 points.

Being one of the unfortunate ones to miss out on a premiership medallion, Noble has returned to the club raring to go for season 2024.

"Yeah, John will play but I haven't had a chance to tell him that," McRae said on Thursday.

"We want our players to keep coming back and getting better and clearly he didn't get what he wanted last year.

"But the way he has presented himself is now fitter and stronger and has put on 4kg or 5kg and we need guys like John to get us back to where we want to be."

Noble will slot into the defensive unit that will include luckless key back Charlie Dean, who will make his long-awaited debut.

Dean - who's had a horrid run with back injuries - has only featured in the VFL three times across the past two seasons, hinting at McRae's faith in the 2021 Fothergill-Round-Mitchell medallist.

ENGIE Stadium

However, fan-favourite Finlay Macrae was asked once again, with the Collingwood premiership coach providing insight into where the midfielder stands.

"Fin's the most asked about player I speak about and I openly have communication with him more than any other player and is one we are desperate to get in," McRae said.

"And what that means is we want to play and if it's this week, but if it's not this week then hopefully next week.

"He's right on the cusp. His speed was excellent today and his GPS keeps telling us he's ready to play."

Collingwood will face GWS at GIANTS Stadium on Saturday 7:30pm (AEDT).