MELBOURNE – Collingwood’s Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan is making the most of his club-imposed suspension to build towards a fitness peak for the AFL finals, says coach Nathan Buckley.

The Magpies had initially considered giving Swan a VFL game this weekend as he serves the second game of his two-match AFL ban, imposed for breaking club rules by going out drinking.

Buckley said yesterday the club had instead decided to continue with an intensive training program designed to give the gun midfielder a September boost.

“The proof will be in the pudding,” Buckley said.

“He’s definitely committed to his training and he’s working hard, so that’s been great to see.

“He’s sought out (midfield coach Robert Harvey) for extra touch sessions.

“He and (sports science director) David Buttifant, or the three or four of us sat down and put a program together, as we do with all of our individuals, to get the very best out of them over that next period of time.

“Swanny’s been diligent with that and speaking to him yesterday after watching the game on Saturday night, he’s pretty toey and looking forward to being able to get his hands dirty.”

The benefits an in-season break can have for Swan were demonstrated last year when he hit top form after a mid-season training trip to Arizona.

While he has not used his current ban to head to the US, he has been working in the Magpies’ altitude room to build fitness.

Fellow midfielder Dale Thomas will play against in-form North Melbourne on Saturday night, despite being subbed off with a corked thigh during last Saturday night’s win over Sydney.

“He’s actually come up as well as we could have hoped and he’s really looking forward to Saturday night,” Buckley said.

Andrew Krakouer, Ben Johnson and Brent Macaffer, all working their way back from long-term injuries through the VFL, will all need at least one more second-tier game before they can push for AFL comebacks.

“Time’s running out,” Buckley said.

“We’ve got two more VFL games, not just for those players, but clearly there’s some other talent in our stocks that want to take advantage of their opportunities at VFL level and be putting their foot forward by playing great footy.”

Collingwood Brownlow Medallist Dane Swan has thrown himself into an intense training regime while on a club-imposed suspension. Picture: Fairfax.

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