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In the mix: round seven

Dyson Heppell is in line to return for Friday's blockbuster against the Cats - ${keywords}
Dyson Heppell is in line to return for Friday's blockbuster against the Cats
Skipper Nathan van Berlo is set for his return from a knee injury for this weekend's clash with Greater Western Sydney. He re-commenced full training this week and looks likely to line up for the first time since injuring the knee in round three. Young defender Rory Laird (corked thigh) and the versatile Ricky Henderson (calf) are also both available for selection. If coach Brenton Sanderson insists sending the likes of Matthew Jaensch or Andy Otten forward, Luke Thompson could be called on to bolster the defence, while small forwards Ian Callinan (22 possessions, two goals), Jared Petrenko (18 disposals, one goal) and Graham Johncock (19 touches, two goals) all performed well in the SANFL. - Harry Thring

Click here to see the full round seven injury list

After three matches in the reserves, triple premiership midfielder Simon Black is almost certain to return against West Coast at the Gabba on Saturday. Black had off-season knee surgery and has slowly made his way back through the twos, playing more game time each week. Coach Michael Voss said he was being cautious to ensure the Lions got 15 quality games out of Black, rather than rushing him back and risking further injury. Another player likely to come into consideration is tagger Andrew Raines, who was left out against the Swans last week, while forward Jordan Lisle keeps knocking the door down with bags of goals in the reserves. - Michael Whiting

With Jarrad Waite suspended for one match and Chris Yarran being substituted out of Carlton's game against Melbourne with back and hamstring tightness, there could be two enforced changes for Monday's clash with St Kilda. The Blues are likely to welcome back vice-captain Andrew Carrazzo, who withdrew from the Demons' match with a corked calf, and could also regain Bryce Gibbs (hamstring strain). There is no shortage of options in the VFL – Tom Bell is in great form, key forwards Levi Casboult (four goals), Luke Mitchell (three) and Sam Rowe (one) are pressing their claims, as are the likes of Dylan Buckley, potential debutant Troy Menzel, Aaron Joseph, and defenders Matthew Watson, Nick Duigan and Jeremy Laidler. - Ben Collins

Luke Ball and Alan Didak loom as possible inclusions in a week coach Nathan Buckley has said will be "very interesting on the selection table". The Pies will travel to Perth for Saturday night's clash against Fremantle and have a host of players in good VFL form. Along with Ball and Didak, Buckley has been impressed with Jordan Russell and Marley Williams' recent form, but will struggle to shift too many players out of a relatively settled lineup. After a strong start to the year, Sam Dwyer has averaged only 11 touches in the last two weeks and may be one to make way. A complication for the Pies is the VFL bye this week, which robs those on the fringe of selection, such as Ball and Didak, another week of match conditioning. - David Schout

Collingwood could welcome back Alan Didak for the game against Fremantle. Picture: AFL Media

An interesting week for the Essendon selection committee with a group of stars set to be available for Friday night's big game against Geelong. Michael Hurley, Jake Carlisle, Dustin Fletcher, Paddy Ryder, Jason Winderlich and Dyson Heppell are all likely to play against the Cats, meaning the Bombers need to drop a few players from last week's win over Greater Western Sydney. David Hille will miss after heading to France for a pre-organised family wedding, while midfielder Brent Stanton is in some doubt with an adductor injury. - Callum Twomey

Ross Lyon suggested that only one change would occur for Fremantle this week following its 45-point win over Gold Coast. Stephen Hill did not travel to Queensland after "nicking" his quad with his last kick at training last week. Lyon indicated Hill passed the first test on Monday but will need to pass a couple more before returning to face Collingwood. Zac Clarke did not play in the WAFL last week and therefore is unlikely to return from his calf problem against the Magpies. Viv Michie has been in red-hot form for Peel and is a versatile option in the case of injury. - Alex Malcolm

The Cats are set to regain Paul Chapman for Friday night's big clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium. Chapman has been sidelined for two weeks by hamstring soreness. Ruckman Nathan Vardy kicked six goals in the VFL last weekend, but the Cats are in no hurry to rush him back. A similar approach is being taken with veteran defender Josh Hunt. Midfielder Josh Caddy is among the fringe players pushing hard to play against the Bombers. - Adam McNicol

Steven May was left out last week with a hamstring niggle but is a big chance of recovering to play Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday. May should re-join a forward line that is also likely to retain Charlie Dixon (ankle) who was subbed off against Fremantle last week with injury. Campbell Brown is available after serving his six-week suspension, although coach Guy McKenna has strongly hinted the veteran will need some time in reserves to get match fit before he is considered. Kyal Horsley, Luke Russell and Jack Hutchins were all strong in the reserves last week and could come into consideration if McKenna wants to wield the axe. - Michael Whiting

The Giants made seven changes last week and it led to a competitive showing against unbeaten Essendon that no one had predicted. That won't prevent coach Kevin Sheedy, however, from making alterations again this week. Dean Brogan's three-match suspension has ended and the ruckman, who appears desperate to get every last ounce out of his ageing frame, is slated to return to the centre circle to face the Crows. Setanta O'hAilpin, who kicked eight goals in his first two games before missing out with a calf issue last week, is also a likely returnee. A host of Giants who were given another shot against the Bombers, including Sam Frost, Josh Bruce, Curtly Hampton and Adam Tomlinson, are right on the fringe of retaining their places for another week. - James Dampney

Excitable GWS forward Setanta O'hAilpin may be back this week. Picture: AFL Media

NAB AFL Rising Star nominee Jed Anderson has now missed three weeks with a hamstring injury, and would be expected to be fit this week. Whether he comes straight back in against reigning premiers the Sydney Swans or spends a game at VFL level is the question facing coach Alastair Clarkson. Ruckman Max Bailey was a late withdrawal from last week's win over Adelaide with knee soreness, and should also be available. Shane Savage, Mitch Hallahan and Kyle Cheney featured in Box Hill's best at the weekend. - Mark Macgugan

Good news for the Demons this week is that they finally get to unveil their pricey Collingwood recruit, Chris Dawes. The key forward, plagued through the NAB Cup and the start home and away season by a series of leg injuries, has played the past two weeks for Casey and is certain to take his place against Gold Coast at the MCG on Sunday. Midfielders Sam Blease and Jimmy Toumpas also impressed for Casey on Saturday. The Demons will be forced to make at least one change this week, with co-skipper Jack Grimes out for two months with a broken collarbone. - Ashley Browne

Recruit Chris Dawes could play his first game for the Demons this weekend. Picture: AFL Media

North will welcome back five-time best and fairest winner Brent Harvey now that the former skipper has served his six-match suspension. North is unlikely to ease Harvey back into AFL football, with coach Brad Scott last week saying the veteran would not play as the Roos' substitute against the Bulldogs. Aaron Black (hip) and Sam Wright (knee) are expected to be available for selection after recovering from knocks suffered against Port Adelaide last Saturday. Key forwards Lachlan Hansen and Robbie Tarrant are also likely to be considered. Hansen was fit to play last weekend but travelled to Hobart as North's non-playing emergency, while Tarrant must prove he is over the leg injury that has sidelined him for the past three weeks. North's best performers in the VFL last round included midfielders Levi Greenwood and Ben Jacobs, and key defender Luke Delaney. - Nick Bowen

Exciting defender Jasper Pittard will be assessed during training this week in his bid to face Richmond on Saturday afternoon. Pittard missed last weekend's loss to North Melbourne due to a strained hipflexor, but the club is hopeful he'll pass a fitness test and line up on Saturday. Hard-nosed midfielder Andrew Moore is closing in on senior selection after managing another 22 disposals, nine clearances and a goal for North Adelaide and injury-plagued forward Nick Salter enjoyed his best game for some time with four goals. His Woodville/West Torrens teammate Jarrad Redden was dominant with 17 hit-outs and five goals. Sam Colquhoun won't leave selectors alone – collecting 28 disposals and 10 marks for Central District after being named the Power's emergency. - Harry Thring

Aaron Edwards could finally get his chance at senior level after an extended run of good form in the VFL if Ty Vickery (concussion) is not fit to travel to AAMI Stadium. Edwards has kicked 19 goals in the past five weeks, and took a massive 16 marks against Essendon at the weekend. Ruckman Orren Stephenson will also be on standby this week if Ivan Maric doesn't recover from an ankle complaint. After a lengthy rehabilitation, Nathan Foley could finally be ready to return from an Achilles tendon injury, with Shane Tuck another option to strengthen the midfield. Both were strong performers for Coburg, along with Robin Nahas, who booted four goals. - Nathan Schmook

Sam Gilbert will miss a lengthy period after being pencilled in for surgery on his knee on Tuesday while Lenny Hayes will miss two to three weeks with the calf he strained in the warm up of Friday night's loss to Collingwood. Justin Koschitzke will miss two games with suspension for his high hit on Jamie Elliot. From the VFL, Farren Ray and Tom Ledger have pressed their cases with good form while James Gwilt got through his first game back from a knee injury on the weekend. - Jennifer Phelan

Lewis Jetta and Sam Reid in full flight against the Brisbane Lions last week would have warmed the heart of the Swans' coaching staff after the key pair had endured some indifferent form. Jed Lamb will also make an interesting test case to see whether a youngster who performed well in one quarter as a substitute in his first game at AFL level did enough to earn an appearance against the Hawks at the MCG. Otherwise there may not be too many changes to a side that has moved to 5-1 for the season and is showing some good signs one-quarter of the way through the season. Mitch Morton, who kicked five goals in three quarters for the reserves, would be the most likely player to force his way in if a change is made. - James Dampney

The Eagles were almost back to full-strength until Beau Waters and Sam Butler were each ruled out for another week. Luke Shuey also has a tight calf and will be monitored. Matt Rosa must be in serious contention to play following three games in the WAFL, averaging 24 disposals, after suffering compartment syndrome in his quad during the pre-season. Pat McGinnity, Adam Selwood, and Brad Sheppard all played in the WAFL last weekend but it is unlikely any of them will force their way back in. Andrew Embley could be passed fit but won't be able to play WAFL due to the state bye. - Alex Malcolm

Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney was crying out for some leadership from his senior brigade after last week's loss to West Coast, and suddenly, he's spoilt for choice. Robert Murphy (below), Ryan Griffen and Daniel Giansiracusa are all expected to be available for Saturday's clash with North Melbourne, while Tom Williams is also in contention. Lukas Markovic is steadily building his case for selection, after being named in the best for Williamstown in the VFL on the weekend. - Jacqui Reed

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs