Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley says his side need to show more intensity if they are to win the fight for an AFL finals berth, starting with Brisbane.

Returning star midfielder Dane Swan is like a “snapshot” of the Magpies’ tumultuous AFL season, according to coach Nathan Buckley.

Swan is set to return against Brisbane at the MCG on Saturday night after three games sidelined with a foot injury.

It’s a must-win game for Collingwood, who have dropped out of the top eight following a disappointing 60-point loss to West Coast last round.

Buckley said Swan was a good reflection of his side’s season; starting with real promise to be 8-3 before a mid-season stumble.

The Brownlow Medallist has battled plantar fasciitis which limited his usual game-breaking impact before his time off.

“Swanny is probably a really good snapshot of where we are at,” Buckley said.

“He’s had his own standards leading up to the beginning of this year with six or seven years of absolute consistency and he’s had a poor year by his standards.

“But the season’s not over for him and it’s not over for us.”

Buckley said he was expecting Swan to be refreshed and give them some real punch through the midfield.

“We’re looking forward to him coming in with fresh legs and bringing his experience as well.”

Buckley said there were five teams fighting to fill the bottom two berths in the finals with in-form Richmond and West Coast “on the hunt”.

He said his team had the capacity to be there, provided they played with intensity and put their opponents under pressure.

He said their recent win over contender Port Adelaide showed their potential.

“We’re still in the hunt, we’ve got to find it quick smart.

“We need to win contested ball and put teams under pressure.

“When we’ve played our best footy we do that and when we don’t we’re barely competitive.

“We’ve done it for half a season but we haven’t done it for the last nine games, but the thing that gives me confidence is people in our coaching staff and playing group.”

While Carlton veteran Chris Judd confirmed this week he would play on for another year, Buckley said a decision wouldn’t be made on Magpies midfielder Luke Ball until the end of the season.

Ball has been playing in Collingwood’s VFL side after battling injury but is poised to return.

‘We’re just focused on him getting the best out of himself this year.

“The last five or six weeks have been pretty disappointing for him as he tries to get his body up to speed,” Buckley said.

“Anything beyond this year we will deal with at the end of the year.”