Former Bulldog Patrick Lipinski appears set to earn his first start in black and white stripes on Friday after suitably recovering from an ankle injury.

Having traded the Whitten Oval for Olympic Park during the 2021 trade period, the 23-year-old was seen as a certain starter for Craig McRae’s side for their Round 1 dual against the Saints.

However, after exiting the Woods’ AAMI Community Series clash against the Giants earlier this month in the arms of trainers, this same certainty was cast into doubt.

Yet, after training without constraint in the days prior to Collingwood’s first fixture of a new era, the previously overlooked Pup will make his first AFL appearance since Round 20 of last season.

Across his five seasons under Luke Beveridge, the Northern Knights product pulled on a red, white and blue guernsey of 56-games.

According to AFL Media, Lipinski will join the likes of Taylor Adams, Jeremy Howe, Brody Mihocek and Isaac Quaynor in the Pies’ congregation to return from injury.

Adams (hamstring), Howe (groin), Mihocek (illness) and Quaynor (concussion) were all absent from Collingwood’s pre-season defeat at the hands of the Giants.

While the outlook appears bright for Lipinski and this aforementioned quartet, offensive utility Will Hoskin-Elliott’s place in the 22 has become murky ahead of the weekend.

As stated by Josh Gabelich, the former Giant was said to have fallen awkwardly during a marking contest on the training track and sustained dual hip and groin complaints. 

Still, the 28-year-old is still seen as a live chance to earn a place on McRae’s team list alongside uber-hyped debutant, Nick Daicos.

Although the 157-gamer will need to prove his fitness prior to Friday night’s season opener at Marvel Stadium, Collingwood will start their fixture list without key defensive options Jordan Roughead (shoulder), Nathan Murphy (ankle) and Charlie Dean (foot).

This backline battering has been compounded by the fact that Irishman Mark Keane is no longer a rostered option for McRae after returning to the Emerald Isle in mid-January.

Former Cat Nathan Kreuger has also been ruled out of action, with the 22-year-old still recovering from the effects of concussion.

Lipinski, McRae and the Magpies will set their 2022 season in motion when the Sherrin meets the middle of the Docklands’ turf at 7:50pm on Friday, March 18.