Steele Sidebottom (left) and coach Nathan Buckley of the Magpies.
Steele Sidebottom (left) and coach Nathan Buckley of the Magpies. JULIAN SMITH

Don't blame Buckley, blame us, says Magpie

STEELE Sidebottom says the heat should be on the Collingwood players to make a return to finals in 2017, not coach Nathan Buckley.

The Magpies haven't played finals since 2013 and out-of-contract coach Buckley declared last year his future depended on a return to the top eight.

Sidebottom agreed there was a sense of urgency about this season, but backed Buckley to lead Collingwood into the future.

"At the end of the day (if) we're losing games then obviously everyone looks to Bucks because you don't see many players getting their contracts thrown out during the year, like it happens to coaches," Sidebottom said.

"I think it should come to us to perform. At the end of the day you see coaches getting the sack and it's a result of their players not winning games ... It's pretty cut-throat and if you're not performing at the best all the time then changes happen, but I've got confidence in Bucks and so does everyone at the club.

"I'm confident going (into) this year Bucks will be (coaching) for years to come."

Sidebottom said the Magpies would make an impression this season.

"It does hurt guys that we aren't playing finals," Sidebottom said.

"To see the nick some of the guys have come back in this pre-season is good.

"There's probably a large chunk of our playing group who would have had their best pre-season to date.

"Guys are really hungry to get back to where we should be playing."

Sidebottom expects Jamie Elliott (ankle) to return to training next week.

He also said recruit Daniel Wells was keen to play against Fremantle in Mandurah on March 4.

"I think Wellsy's ready to go," he said.

"Hopefully he can stay injury-free and be a big part of 2017."