Collingwood is set to welcome back 33-year-old defensive stalwart Jeremy Howe for their Friday night clash against Sydney at the MCG.

Howe is likely to return from a corked calf which sidelined him for the Pies' last practice match and 'Opening Round' loss to GWS, significantly boosting their defensive stocks after being exposed in a Giants forward-moving masterclass.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 07: Jeremy Howe of the Collingwood Magpies looks on during a Collingwood Magpies Training Session on April 7, 2016, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Without Nathan Murphy for the foreseeable future, the defensive load on Howe may increase as Collingwood searches for tall backline cover.

Speaking on Thursday coach Craig McRae said he was "confident" Howe will get up for the clash with the Swans.

"We're confident he got through," McRae said to reporters.

"It's just a matter of now... looks like selecting him. We haven't done that yet but it is more than likely we will select him.

"And then see how he pulls up tomorrow."

Youngster Finlay Macrae celebrates his 22nd birthday today and will be hoping for a late gift tomorrow night with selection in the Collingwood lineup, Josh Gabelich reporting he is in the frame.

Macrae has featured just three times under Fly's tenure, but by all reports has been knocking on the selector's door with his preseason form.

The departure of Taylor Adams provided a path for someone new to fight their way into the Magpie midfield, with Beau McCreery mentioned as an inside candidate.

Macrae's practice match performances were underwhelming, but perhaps not as disappointing as Collingwood's season-opening effort.

"I wouldn't have thought he needs to do much more at all. It is going to be hard to leave him out this week. We have some decisions to make at match committee," McRae said.

"I like saying things out loud so people can hear it; that holds me to account.

"We are going to play Fin Macrae very shortly, whether that's this week or next, he will be playing. That puts pressure on me to pick him, doesn't it?

"I've had this conversation with Fin: we need to get him in the team. I think it's going to be hard to leave him out (this Friday night)."

Craig McRae may look to trial a young, hungry talent to reignite Collingwood's winning ways, raising hope for Macrae's inclusion.

Tall forward Nathan Kreuger remains sidelined with a hamstring injury until at least Round 5 while Dan McStay progresses through his ACL rehab.

He and Nathan Murphy will likely miss the entire 2024 season, though Murphy remains confident in his hopeful return to the game following his latest concussion during last year's Grand Final.

Collingwood will face Sydney this Friday night with hopes of clicking into gear with their first win of the season.