AAP AFL

Big shoes to fill after star Pie’s AFL ban

By AAP Newswire

The length of Jaidyn Stephenson's gambling ban has divided opinion but there's little doubt his absence leaves a big hole in Collingwood's AFL attack.

Stephenson's x-factor inside 50 will be sorely missed by the Pies as he serves a 10-game ban for breaching the AFL's wagering rules on three occasions this season.

The 20-year-old will be available to return to Nathan Buckley's AFL line-up in the first week of the finals, should they make it, after 12 games of his 22-match suspension were suspended.

Stephenson, who hasn't missed a game since he was the No.6 pick at the 2017 draft, kicked 21 goals in 12 games this season and was on track to surpass the 38 goals that saw him take out the AFL's Rising Star award last year.

"Jaidyn will leave a big hole to fill because he's a wonderful young talent," Pies football chief Geoff Walsh said.

"Whoever gets that opportunity they will have young but quite big shoes to fill."

While not like-for-like, Jamie Elliott looms as a handy addition to Collingwood's attack but Walsh said he is certainly one week, probably two, away from resuming from a hamstring injury.

Buckley has been unabashedly reluctant to change up his preferred forward structure, which could leave the door open for Josh Daicos to play his first game this season when the Pies take on the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

Stephenson is allowed to train with his teammates during his ban, but is not allowed to play in the VFL, which will leave him short of match practice and ensure Buckley has a big decision to make come September.

"If we're going well enough then I would think any player who has missed an extended period through injury, or in Jaidyn's case through suspension, he'll find it tough there's no doubt," Walsh said.

"As good a young talent as he is 10 weeks on the sidelines of a game that is so tough it will be a really strong challenge for him to regain a spot in the side.

"Let's hope it's a challenge that we need to consider because there's a lot of footy to be played."

Collingwood are third on the ladder with a 9-3 record heading into the clash with the Dogs.