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In the mix: round six

Eagle recruit Sharrod Wellingham could play his first game for his new club this weekend - ${keywords}
Eagle recruit Sharrod Wellingham could play his first game for his new club this weekend
The devastating news that key forward Taylor Walker will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury means either Lewis Johnston (191cm) or Shaun McKernan (196cm) are likely to be brought in as replacements. McKernan kicked five goals in the SANFL last weekend, while Johnston has been in top form and has 13 goals from four games. While he doesn't have the size of the other two, Graham Johncock was again in good touch in the SANFL, booting five goals. Jarryd Lyons won't leave coach Brenton Sanderson alone either, racking up another 29 disposals to make him the SANFL's leading possession getter. - Harry Thring

The Lions will welcome back suspended winger Pearce Hanley for the stiffest challenge in the competition when they play the Swans in Sydney on Sunday. While defender Matt Maguire (leg) is also a chance to return, most focus will centre on Brownlow medallist Simon Black. Black has played two matches in the reserves on his comeback from knee surgery, but coach Michael Voss said he would take no chances with his midfield superstar. He's probably a 50-50 bet. - Michael Whiting

The Blues will need to find a replacement for injured runner Bryce Gibbs when they take on Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday. Among the candidates are midfielders Tom Bell and David Ellard, who have been in good form in the VFL, along with defenders Nick Duigan, Jeremy Laidler and Aaron Joseph. Prized draftee Troy Menzel might even be promoted for his AFL debut. And with tall forwards Shaun Hampson and Sam Rowe on notice to lift, the Blues could restructure their attack using the likes of returned veteran Jarrad Waite, Levi Casboult and Luke Mitchell. However Waite, who played his first game of the season in the VFL on Sunday, will likely require more match fitness. Dylan Buckley is also in the mix. - Ben Collins

Collingwood is moving closer to regaining a number of its stars, on the back of some promising showings in the club's 116-point VFL win at the weekend. Luke Ball made a successful return in his first competitive game of football for 54 weeks, collecting 25 disposals in three quarters of football. Darren Jolly kicked three goals and dominated the hit-outs, while Andrew Krakouer and Alan Didak both impressed again. If the Magpies place Alan Toovey (knee) on the long-term injury list, rookies Kyle Martin (four goals) and Adam Oxley (two) are two players who may come in to contention to be elevated on to the senior list. - Ben Guthrie

Luke Ball enjoyed a fine return to football in the VFL last weekend. Picture: AFL Media

Michael Hurley (ankle) and Dustin Fletcher (groin) will be pushing to return for this week's meeting with Greater Western Sydney, but the club will take a conservative approach. One might replace Jake Carlisle, who is in some doubt with a foot injury suffered against Collingwood last week. The club's depth is strong and the match committee might swing a few changes to refresh the side, with Jake Melksham, Tayte Pears, Nathan Lovett-Murray and Leroy Jetta in line for senior games after solid outings in the VFL over the weekend. - Callum Twomey

Tanner Smith will almost certainly play after the injury to Kepler Bradley. He debuted against Hawthorn in defence but has looked a natural forward at times for Peel in the WAFL this season. Zac Clarke did not play in the WAFL last week and would be unlikely to come straight in. Paul Duffield was a late withdrawal last week with a calf problem. Insiders believe he would only miss one match and should be available this week. Hayden Crozier has been an emergency for every game bar the one he played against the Western Bulldogs. He had 34 disposals, 10 inside 50s, and a goal in a loss for Peel on Saturday. The classy left-footer must be considered this week. Alex Silvagni will also come into contention for the trip to the Gold Coast. - Alex Malcolm
The Cats have lost Jared Rivers (knee) for at least a month, but they are set to regain Paul Chapman and Tom Hawkins for Saturday night's big clash with Richmond at the MCG. Rookie-listed midfielder Cameron Eardley was best on ground for the Cats' VFL team last weekend, although he needs to gain promotion before he can be considered. The more likely prospects to push for selection in the coming weeks are Jordan Murdoch, Jordan Schroder, Josh Hunt and Shane Kersten. - Adam McNicol

Happy Chappy: Paul Chapman will be all smiles if he returns for the Richmond clash. Picture: AFL Media

Guy McKenna is about to coach his 50th AFL match and he might have the rare luxury of naming an unchanged team to play Fremantle at home on Saturday night. With a resounding last-start win against GWS and no fresh injuries, the Suns look in good shape. No.13 draft pick Jesse Lonergan may come into consideration after playing his first match back in reserves last week following a broken hand. He was a lock for round one before his injury and was strong against the Brisbane Lions reserves in his comeback. - Michael Whiting

After being trounced by North Melbourne in clearances and contested possession on Sunday, the Hawks will welcome Brad Sewell back from his hamstring injury. The seasoned midfielder must pass a fitness test, but is expected to be available. NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Jed Anderson is possibly another week away with his hamstring strain, but Taylor Duryea should be fit after missing last week with a corked thigh. Mitch Hallahan, Jonathan Simpkin and Matt Spangher all featured in Box Hill's best on the weekend. - Mark Macgugan

Although the Giants ran out of legs in Saturday's loss against Gold Coast, it might be a couple of big bodies knocking on the selection door this week. The Suns' three-pronged forward line of Charlie Dixon, Tom Lynch and Steven May created headaches for the Giants and they will face similar problems this week against an Essendon team that may once again have the services of Michael Hurley (ankle), along with Stewart Crameri, Tom Bellchambers and Scott Gumbleton. Tall defender Josh Bruce was best on ground for the Giants reserves last week, while utility Sam Frost kicked a bag of six goals in the forward line but is just as adept in the back half. - Michael Whiting

The Demons returned home from Brisbane 28 points in arrears, but with no new injuries. The Casey Scorpions enjoyed a 23-point win over Williamstown, with James Magner and Lynden Dunn among he best players. Magner, a rookie, had 32 possessions and six tackles, while Dunn's 35 possessions, 11 marks and two goals was described by development coach Paul Satterley as the "near perfect game". Whether that sways Neeld ahead of the Carlton game remains to be seen. Boom recruit Chris Dawes came through unscathed to show he was finally over his hamstring injury but he might need another week in the VFL to work on his match conditioning. With Mitch Clark out for up to two months, the Demons need Dawes to finally make his debut in the red and blue. – Ashley Browne

Key forwards Robbie Tarrant (leg) and Lachlan Hansen (knee) face fitness tests later this week, but there may not be room for both in North's team given Aaron Black's good performance against Hawthorn. Ruckman Daniel Currie continued his good VFL form with Werribee last Saturday, but Kieran Harper looks set to spend more time in the VFL after managing just eight possessions in the Tigers' 64-point loss. Will Sierakowski will again come into contention to make his AFL debut despite sitting out Werribee's game as North's non-playing emergency. But fellow emergency Brad McKenzie did not advance his senior claims with his 10-possession game in North Ballarat's 37-point loss to Essendon's VFL team. Ben Jacobs only played a half in the Roosters' loss after being rested as a precaution following a knock to his knee. - Nick Bowen

The loss of Jackson Trengove to a foot injury leaves a huge hole in defence for the Power, but 20-year-old former Greater Western Sydney defender Jack Hombsch is available to fill it. Hombsch was expected to play in round one, but a late pre-season injury meant he has only just run into form for Sturt in the SANFL. Jasper Pittard will need to prove his fitness this week, after the general soreness that kept him from last weekend's game turned out to be a slight hip flexor strain. Midfielder Andrew Moore was exceptional last weekend in the SANFL with 37 disposals and 11 clearances and ruckman Jarrad Redden was good too with three goals from 14 touches. - Harry Thring

Steven Morris has served his one-match suspension and is available while Troy Chaplin faces a test to prove he is over a calf injury. Shane Tuck was rested last week and could be called up while Aaron Edwards has done his chances of a Richmond debut no harm with five goals in the VFL at the weekend after booting seven in round three and four in round one. Matt Dea and Matt Arnot were also good in Coburg's loss to Box Hill while Nathan Foley had 28 touches in his second game back from an Achilles injury. - Jennifer Phelan

Nathan Foley (centre) may be close to a senior return for the Tigers. Picture: AFL Media

There are selection issues for the Saints to ponder in the forward line this week, with Stephen Milne free to return from a suspension and Terry Milera (six goals) making a statement with VFL club Sandringham after he was dropped. Milne is not guaranteed a recall after a poor start to the season was made worse by a foolish one-week ban. There is room for change in attack after Ahmed Saad, Tom Lee, Trent Dennis-Lane and Justin Koschitzke combined for two goals in Wellington. Others to push their claims in the VFL were Arryn Siposs (24 possessions), Farren Ray (27), Tom Ledger (23) and ruckman Tom Hickey, who kicked two goals and could offer support to Ben McEvoy, who has been stretched. - Nathan Schmook

It seems unlikely the Swans will make too many inclusions for the clash against the Lions but running defender Rhyce Shaw, who has been absent with an abdominal injury, will certainly come into calculations if he is judged fit to play. Andrejs Everitt is the player most likely to be in the gun. Everitt was subbed out of the Anzac Day clash in New Zealand, after taking the place of premiership hero Mitch Morton from the previous week. Morton will undoubtedly be hoping his name pops up at selection again but spots remain tight. If the Swans lose patience with Sam Reid, Tommy Walsh and Jesse White are the tall forward options waiting for a crack. - Cameron Noakes

The big news at West Coast is the possibility of Nic Naitanui returning. John Worsfold flagged last week a possible return in round seven or eight but Naitanui is listed as a 'test' this week. He may come straight into the senior side because his WAFL club Swan Districts doesn't play for three weeks. Whether the star ruckman returns this week remains to be seen. Matt Rosa and Sharrod Wellingham will most certainly be considered after playing WAFL last week. Will Schofield is a chance to return if Darren Glass accepts his two-match ban. Andrew Embley and Patrick McGinnity are listed as possibilities but are unlikely to play. Mark Hutchings is close to a debut. If Matt Priddis does not recover from a concussion he may be a direct replacement but the fitness of Wellingham and Rosa could keep him out. - Alex Malcolm

In good news for the Bulldogs, Ayce Cordy booted three goals in Williamstown's 23 point loss to Casey at the weekend, and could be in contention for a senior recall. The Dogs could lose Brett Goodes to suspension this week, meaning at least one forced change for Sunday's clash against West Coast. Coach Brendan McCartney has a few to choose from, with Dylan Addison looming as a like-for-like, while Lukas Markovic was also named in the best for the Seagulls. - Jacqui Reed
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs