Collingwood will be forced into at least one change for Saturday's grand final after key forward Dan McStay was ruled out of the season's decider with a high-grade medial collateral ligament strain sustained in the preliminary final win over GWS.

The setback sees the Magpies recruit become the latest hard luck story in a club's flag pursuit, with McStay to miss out on the chance of collecting his maiden premiership medal.

The 28-year-old would play 14 games in the black and white in his first season since switching from Brisbane through free agency, with the Lions booking their place alongside Collingwood in the grand final.

Friday's win over the Giants was shaping as one of McStay's most impactful in his 10 years in the game, having booted two goals and taken as many contested marks as the focal point in Craig McRae's attack prior to his untimely knee injury.

McRae and the Magpies will now need to look to their reinforcements for support as Collingwood looks to secure its third flag since 1958.

While they might not be short on options to fill McStay's spot in the side, there's no clear standout for McRae to look toward, nor will the tall forward be easy to replace.

Collingwood will also have veteran midfielder Taylor Adams pressing his case for a return as he looks to overcome a hamstring injury sustained during the club's break between finals, but the Magpies are unlikely to simply swap Adams in for McStay even if the former is announced fit.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24: Taylor Adams (left) Daniel McStay of the Magpies celebrate during the 2023 AFL match simulation between the Carlton Blues and the Collingwood Magpies at Ikon Park on February 24, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

The defensive key position threat that Brisbane possess will leave McRae scratching his head, but versatility is a trait that Collingwood prides itself on under their inspiring coach.

McRae could look to shuffle the magnets to alleviate the pressure of their opponent's rearguard, with high-flying defender Jeremy Howe one option to be swung forward into attack. The Magpies veteran has been a swingman weapon for his side this year and booted multiple goals against Carlton, Geelong and Brisbane between Rounds 20-23 after moving into attack.

A move to the other end of the field for Howe would then open the door for Billy Frampton to fill the void in defence, with the former Power and Crows tall a fluid asset for the Magpies in 2023, playing back, forward and in the ruck at times.

McRae could consider Frampton as the direct replacement for McStay in attack, but if the Collingwood coach isn't looking to reshape his backline then there are likely more preferred options to take McStay's place.

Ash Johnson would've been the leading name among the pack of fringe forwards, however an arm injury at VFL level earlier this month brought his season to an end.

20-year-old Reef McInnes led Collingwood's reserves for goalkicking in 2023 with 32 majors from 15 games, five goals more from four fewer appearances than the next best in Tom Wilson, but the young forward wouldn't have played in over a month come the grand final due to a shoulder injury.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 02: Reef McInnes of the Magpies shakes hands with Josh Daicos before the round three AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Geelong Cats at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 02, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Nathan Kreuger was among Collingwood's best-performing forwards at VFL level at the end of the season and could be used as defensive support if the Magpies are needing to hold onto a late lead in the grand final.

The South Australian managed just two matches under McRae this year, both of which he was subbed off in, while Wilson played just the single game in the home and away season as the tactical sub in Round 5.

McInnes played five games during the year but would either start or end a match as sub in four of those, with his only full-game appearance seeing him go goalless from seven disposals in the King's Birthday defeat to Melbourne.

Frampton played 15 games in his first season as a Magpie and would kick goals in six of those matches despite predominantly featuring in defence.

A decision won't come until Thursday evening, giving each and any fringe Magpie plenty of chances to press their case for a recall at training over the coming days.