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In the mix: round 23

GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - JULY 08: Jimmy Bartel of the Cats looks onduring the 2016 AFL Round 16 match between the Geelong Cats and the Sydney Swans at Simonds Stadium on July 8, 2016 in Geelong, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Jimmy Bartel and his beard should return for the Cats this week. Picture: AFL Photos

The Crows will likely recall Cam Ellis-Yolmen for Friday night's crucial clash with West Coast at Adelaide Oval. Ellis-Yolmen will come into the side for star midfielder Rory Sloane, who is expected to accept a one-game ban for rough conduct on Port Adelaide's Brad Ebert. Ellis-Yolmen has played just the one senior game this season, but has been in tremendous form in the SANFL and is among the favourites for the Magarey Medal. Defender Brodie Smith is in doubt with a concussion. Paul Seedsman is the favourite to take his spot, but must pass a fitness test this week after missing the past two games with a corked buttock. Ricky Henderson will also come into consideration, while ex-Giant Curtly Hampton is another option to make his Crows debut. Hampton had some nice touches in Adelaide's 94-point flogging of West Adelaide in Berri in the SANFL. Harrison Wigg (31 possessions), Dean Gore (29) and Mitch Grigg (26) were also strong contributors. - Lee Gaskin

Although suffering no injuries against Geelong at the weekend, coach Justin Leppitsch conceded his team might have been a fraction tall, meaning some more midfielders might come into the frame for Sunday's game against St Kilda at Etihad Stadium. Jarrad Jansen and Liam Dawson are the obvious candidates to push their cases, while ruckman Archie Smith was rested against the Cats and could be considered for another game's experience. - Michael Whiting

Teenage key forward Harry McKay is likely to make his AFL debut against Essendon on Saturday after an impressive display for the Northern Blues at Ikon Park last Saturday. He may take the spot left opened by a knee injury to Ed Curnow. If McKay, the No. 10 pick in last year's NAB AFL Draft, plays it will mean all of the Blues' 2015 draftees have been given a chance at the elite level this season. McKay, who was sidelined for the first half of the season with a stress fracture in his back, moved well despite having limited opportunities against Williamstown and kicked a goal. Jason Tutt was outstanding, gatheringa team-high 32 touches. - Howard Kotton 

Veteran forward Travis Cloke has already been confirmed as the replacement for injured youngster Darcy Moore in the final-round clash with Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday. Cloke, 29, has tallied nine goals in his past two VFL outings and will get a final chance to prove his worth before his name is raised during the NAB AFL Trade Period. The Pies might also need to replace young midfielder Jordan De Goey, who hurt an ankle in the win over Gold Coast on Saturday night. Tyson Goldsack could return after being a late withdrawal with a foot problem, and there is no shortage of candidates from a VFL side that has won 12 consecutive games, with those in contention including big men Jarrod Witts and Mason Cox, fullback Jack Frost andyoungster Matthew Goodyear. - Ben Collins

Will this week be Travis Cloke's last game in a black and white jumper? Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers head into their final game of the year against Carlton in an interesting place. It is unknown if Adam Cooney will play this week or if last weekend's loss to the Western Bulldogs was the last of his career. Mathew Stokes' 200th game was certainly his last, but the Bombers may be keen to give a couple of their other top-up players one last AFL game. That could bring Ryan Crowley and James Polkinghorne into contention to return. Shaun Edwards has been in better form of late in the VFL and could win an upgrade to the senior team, while ruckman/forward Shaun McKernan may also come into contention. Courtenay Dempsey will be touch-and-go to return from a hamstring injury after missing two weeks. - Callum Twomey

Matthew Pavlich will return for his farewell match in round 23, and how many others return to be part of the celebration will be the question the Dockers' match committee must answer this week. Aaron Sandilands suffered a gluteal strain against the Crows and missed last week but should be fine to return. Ross Lyon is open to picking some loyal servants for this last game of the season in what is set to be an end of an era at Fremantle. Uncontracted veterans Matt de Boer, Tendai Mzungu and Clancee Pearce will all be heavily considered. Anthony Morabito could also be a sentimental choice as his future is unknown. Nick Suban is contracted for next year but could be included to join some old mates for the final time. Hayden Crozier missed last week with a calf issue and could be available. – Alex Malcolm

It will be a sad farewell for Dockers champion Matthew Pavlich. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong has selection headaches with Jimmy Bartel, Daniel Menzel, Josh Caddy and Nakia Cockatoo all knocking on the door after missing the game against the Brisbane Lions. Shane Kersten and Darcy Lang are probably the most vulnerable, however they have not done much wrong. Jed Bews is also a chance considering his recent efforts on Adelaide's small forward Eddie Betts, particularly with the Crows being Geelong's likely opponent in the first week of the finals. - Peter Ryan

The Suns looked out on their feet against Collingwood last week and might be keen to reinstate some youth for the final round against Port Adelaide at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night. Sean Lemmens has to overcome a concussion test, but regardless, young half-back Jesse Joyce should come into the frame. Josh Schoenfeld and Mitch Hallahan should also be considered after being omitted last week, while veteran Nick Malceski (knee) is also a chance. - Michael Whiting

Last week was like Groundhog Day at the Giants, with a host of players continuing their exceptional form in the NEAFL to keep their names in the selection frame for round 23. Tall forward James Stewart took 14 marks and booted 8.3 from 23 touches in the reserves' 139-point win over the Brisbane Lions, while Rhys Palmer had a day out in the midfield with six goals, eight tackles and 36 possessions. Sam Reid had 27 disposals but some poor finishing saw him kick 3.6, with Daniel Lloyd (31 touches and three goals) also impressive. Harrison Himmelberg returned from being managed to gather 30 possessions in defence, while Adam Kennedy responded to being dropped to pick up 28 touches, and Will Hoskin-Elliott finished with 27 to keep his hopes of a recall alive. Key defender Aidan Corr was solid again in his third game back from a serious ankle injury and could be looked at for this week's final game of the regular season. - Adam Curley

Plenty to think about at Hawthorn this week. Jon Ceglar's season-ending knee injury will force changes to the Hawks ruck and forward-line structures ahead of Sunday's MCG clash with Collingwood that they must win to cement their top-four berth. Former Demon Jack Fitzpatrick shapes as the most obvious like-for-like replacement for Ceglar and could make his Hawthorn debut, but the Hawks might also bring in Ryan Schoenmakers for his first game since round three. The 2015 premiership forward has got through two VFL games after a groin injury almost derailed his season and is regarded as crucial to how the Hawks like to play. Marc Pittonet and Tim O'Brien will also be in the selection mix. Jonathan O'Rourke has been solid in the VFL and might be recalled if Alastair Clarkson wants to shake up his midfield, but he usually backs his team to rebound strongly after disappointing defeats and they're back on their home deck, so don't expect too many changes. - Ashley Browne

There were a few head-scratching decisions made at the selection table last week and Melbourne coach Paul Roos will be looking to redeem those errors in his final game as coach of the Demons. Melbourne clearly missed Jeff Garlett's speed and pressure against the Blues, with the small forward missing the game with a skin infection in his leg. He will be an automatic inclusion against Geelong, while Cameron Pedersen and James Harmes – who were unlucky to be dropped – could also come straight back into the team. Christian Salem had 25 disposals for the Casey Scorpions and is in the mix to play his first game since round eight, after overcoming illness. Matt Jones (39 disposals), Jack Grimes (37) and Jack Trengove (31) were all prolific through the midfield and may get a look in. – Ben Guthrie

With eighth spot locked away, the Kangaroos have some decisions to make on some key players for the clash with Greater Western Sydney. Star forward Jarrad Waite is pushing to return after three weeks out with another hip setback in a potentially huge inclusion, while young defender Luke McDonald came back from a long-term hamstring in the VFL and impressed in three quarters playing time. Backman Sam Wright and tagger Ben Jacobs are also on the verge of comebacks. Both were held out of Werribee's loss to Footscray after they pulled up sore from their return VFL matches, but should be in the mix to face the Giants. Important playmaker Shaun Higgins has been sidelined since round seven due to a knee injury but appears finally ready to return, potentially straight into the senior side to prepare him for September. Otherwise Robbie Nahas booted three goals for Werribee, defender Ed Vickers-Willis (23 disposals) could be called up to replace Scott Thompson (groin) after playing well on Jake Stringer and Ryan Clarke (26) kept his hand up. – Travis King

Shaun Higgins could provide a massive boost for the Roos on the eve of finals. Picture: AFL Photos

Impressive young defender Logan Austin will come into consideration for a senior recall for Saturday night's clash with the Gold Coast Suns at Metricon Stadium. Austin missed last weekend's Showdown with a groin injury, but would most likely get the tough job on Suns spearhead Tom Lynch. Experienced defender Tom Jonas is also a chance of coming back into the side for his first game since round nine. Jonas was suspended for six weeks for a hit on West Coast's Andrew Gaff before picking up a hamstring injury. Key forward Charlie Dixon will face a fitness test on an ankle injury, but it's unlikely he will be risked against his former club. Midfielder Kane Mitchell can't do much more to win a senior recall after picking up 39 possessions in the SANFL last weekend, while forward John Butcher kicked four goals. Uncapped defender Riley Bonner is a chance of becoming Port's 36th player this season as a reward for strong form in the reserves. - Lee Gaskin 

The Tigers have a balancing act in round 23. They can recall impressive VFL performers Anthony Miles (29 possessions) and Reece Conca (21 and two goals), or they can leave them at the second level as the VFL team pushes to play finals. If Richmond beats Coburg and Essendon loses to the Northern Blues then the VFL Tigers will feature in September. Miles did all he could to demand a recall and really should be selected for the clash against the Sydney Swans on form. Half-forward Ben Lennon looks unlikely to return after appearing to play underdone in the VFL and may have played his last senior game for the Tigers if he seeks a new home. Ty Vickery kicked two goals from five touches and it wouldn't surprise if the match committee sticks with youngsters Callum Moore and Todd Elton at senior level. – Nathan Schmook

Defender Sam Fisher (hamstring) and ruckman Tom Hickey (calf) will both be touch-and-go to return after injury. Of perhaps more interest is 34-year-old Fisher, whose contract expires at season's end. The clash against the Brisbane Lions at Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon could be his farewell game. Cameron Shenton kicked three goals for Sandringham to continue his good form, and he could replace Paddy McCartin after the forward broke his collarbone versus Richmond. One to look for is potential debutant Brandon White, a half-back who was an emergency for the senior team last week and picked up 26 disposals and a goal in the VFL last Sunday. – Dinny Navaratnam

Co-captain Kieren Jack is hopeful of a return this week after rolling his ankle at training late last week and missing the Swans' win over North Melbourne, but with finals just around the corner, he's unlikely to be risked if he's not fully fit. Jack will have to prove his fitness at the Swans' main session on Thursday ahead of Saturday's clash with Richmond at the SCG. Young midfielder Jordan Foote had 37 possessions in the NEAFL to keep the pressure on the senior side's star-studded midfield, while defender Jeremy Laidler was solid in defence with 20 touches and seven rebound 50s, and retiring veteran Ted Richards kicked two goals. Midfielder Brandon Jack and half-back Harrison Marsh were also good in the reserves' last game of the regular season, and after finishing on top of the ladder, they've earned themselves a week off. - Adam Curley

The Swans may prefer to rest Kieren Jack rather than risk him against Richmond. Picture: AFL Photos

The Eagles' major dilemma is how to replace Nic Naitanui.Jonathan Giles was rested from the WAFL last week to ensure he would be available, but he's not an automatic selection. Mitch Brown filled the second ruck role three times earlier this season and, despite his lack of size and experience, his competitiveness is undeniable and gives the Eagles some flexibility. Tom Barrasslooks set to return in defence after missing last week with shin soreness. That could free up Jeremy McGovern to ruck again.Eric Mackenzie could also be called upon to allow McGovern to partner Lycett. Liam Duggan had 20 touches and kicked a goal for East Perth on return from injury, but would need a withdrawal to get back in. – Alex Malcolm

With stand-in skipper Easton Wood joining an already long injury list, the Dogs will welcome back veteran defender Dale Morris (hamstring) and possibly Matthew Suckling (Achilles) for Sunday's clash with Fremantle at Domain Stadium. Dumped forward Jake Stringer should earn a recall after the 2015 All Australian had a serviceable game (21 possessions and a goal) in his demotion to the VFL. Several other  players put their hand up for senior selection in Footscray's big win over Werribee, with midfielders Mitch Honeychurch (35 touches and a goal), Bailey Dale (29 touches and a goal), Declan Hamilton (27 possessions and two goals) and Bailey Williams (20 possessions) all prominent. Out-of-favour ruckman Will Minson continued his good state league form with 23 touches and two goals. – Ryan Davidson 

Jake Stringer didn't demand a recall but the Dogs would love him in top form. Picture: AFL Photos