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AFL 2017 Round 20 - St Kilda v West Coast

Nick Riewoldt looks set to return for the Saints

The top of the table Crows won't be expected to make any changes for Friday night's blockbuster with Sydney at Adelaide Oval. However, skipper Taylor Walker (foot) and vice-captain Rory Sloane (knee) are under injury clouds. Winger Paul Seedsman pushed his claims for a senior recall with 29 disposals and three goals in the Crows' 39-point win over North Adelaide in the SANFL. Wayne Milera found some form with 18 touches, Troy Menzel booted four goals and first-year player Jordan Gallucci impressed with 23 touches and two goals. Key defender Kyle Hartigan is set to return in the SANFL this week after missing a month with a hamstring injury, while midfielder Curtly Hampton is also close to coming back after spending three months out with a serious ankle injury. - Lee Gaskin 

It's going to be hard to change a winning team, but a couple of standout first-year players could be putting their hand up for a run on the MCG on Sunday against Melbourne. Alex Witherden (hamstring) and Jarrod Berry (foot) both missed Saturday's big win over Gold Coast but are expected to be right in the frame to take on the Dees at the home of football. - Michael Whiting

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Midfielder Nick Graham is available after serving a two-game suspension in the VFL. Rhys Palmer continued his fine form in the VFL last Saturday, being one of the Northern Blues’ best with 30 disposals and two goals. Ciaran Byrne (18 touches) performed well again. – Howard Kotton

The Magpies could welcome back midfield star Daniel Wells (thigh) for their clash with Geelong at the MCG on Saturday. Youngster Josh Daicos, the travelling emergency at the weekend, remains in the frame to make his AFL debut. Fellow midfielder Tim Broomhead will also come into calculations after a 41-possession, three-goal game in the club's 87-point win over VFL rival North Ballarat at Victoria Park on Sunday. Defenders Josh Smith (36 touches) and Jackson Ramsay (32) were also standouts, while big man Lachie Keeffe (19 touches, nine marks and two goals) was another to shine. Exciting medium-sized forward Kayle Kirby, who leads the VFL goalkicking with 39 in 15 games, appears unlikely to be granted his AFL debut after being restricted to 1.1 from 14 touches. - Ben Collins 

The Pies could be boosted by Daniel Wells' return. Picture: AFL Photos


Star midfielder Zach Merrett will return for the Bombers after missing last week's loss to Adelaide with suspension. He'll be a welcome inclusion as Essendon heads to Gold Coast to take on the Suns with a finals spot still in the offing. Defender Mark Baguley was rested for the Crows clash so would be expected to be available this week, while the likes of Craig Bird, Heath Hocking and Kobe Mutch continue to play good footy at VFL level. Josh Begley is another who could be looked at after pressing his claims for a senior debut for some time, but it seems likely the Bombers will take a reasonably settled side into the Suns meeting. - Callum Twomey

It is rare for a team coming off a 104-point belting to have as much to look forward to as the Dockers this Sunday against Richmond. Their 265th and last game at Domain Stadium will also mark the long-awaited Freo debut of injury-plagued star Harley Bennell. It will be two years to the round since Bennell last stepped foot on an AFL field following a series of calf issues since his trade from Gold Coast. The 24-year-old played his fourth WAFL game in a row on Saturday, booting 2.2 from 14 touches and the Dockers will reward his persistence with an AFL appearance. Changes would seem to be coming after the loss to the Swans. Hayden Crozier could be back after concussion, while Tommy Sheridan (22 disposals, two goals for Peel) and Ryan Nyhuis (18 disposals) might earn recalls. Rookie Taylin Duman (21) might also be in the mix for a debut. Could Ross Lyon hand long-time lieutenant Zac Dawson a possible farewell game after he was Peel's best pinch-hitting in the ruck? - Travis King

Could Ross Lyon hand Zac Dawson a farewell game this year? Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Duncan will come back in after completing his one-match suspension, but Tom Hawkins must serve another week before he returns. They'll need to replace Rhys Stanley who hurt his right calf in the fourth quarter against Richmond, with Wylie Buzza or the untried Timm House in the box seat. Jamaine Jones did his chances of debuting no harm with another decent VFL game on the weekend, Ryan Abbott had 39 hit-outs and Darcy Lang returned from a broken leg and had 15 possessions and nine tackles. - Jennifer Phelan

The Suns have been sweating on the fitness of two of their best players ahead of Saturday night's final home match of the season against Essendon. Gary Ablett and Pearce Hanley both didn't play in the heavy loss to the Brisbane Lions due to hamstring injuries and Ablett will also miss the game with the Dons. The Suns are hopeful that Hanley might be fit, but they'll need to find a replacement for Sean Lemmens, whose season is over after footy surgery. - Michael Whiting

With ruckman Shane Mumford back from suspension and veteran Steve Johnson to be rested, coach Leon Cameron looks set to make a couple of changes for Saturday's clash with West Coast. Dawson Simpson will be the one to make way for Mumford, while small forward Devon Smith and defender Adam Tomlinson loom as options to replace Johnson. Smith missed last week's win over the Western Bulldogs with a minor knee injury but could be fit to face the Eagles, while Tomlinson was a surprising late omission for team balance, and could be brought in to help counter the visitors' tall forwards. The Giants had a bye in the NEAFL last week, but Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman, Daniel Lloyd and Tendai Mzungu are all ready to go if Cameron needs any more replacements for his in-form side. - Adam Curley 

The Hawks reported a clean bill of health from the win over North Melbourne on Sunday, which is no major surprise given it was a relatively bruise-free affair. Paul Puopolo came through Box Hill's game last Saturday in what was his first match for six weeks and now shapes as a likely inclusion for Saturday night's Etihad Stadium clash with Carlton. Jaeger O'Meara starred in his comeback game for Box Hill and will play in the VFL again on the weekend. Then the Hawks will decide whether he plays one game in the AFL before shutting him down until the pre-season or whether he pushes on through the VFL finals and potentially plays another four games. Alastair Clarkson has flagged looking at more young players before the end of the season, so don't rule out a debut for rebounding defender Harry Morrison. - Ashley Browne 

Paul Puopolo is ready to add some spark to the Hawks' forward line. Picture: AFL Photos

With finals on its radar, Melbourne will start to settle on its best 22 in the coming weeks. But, as coach Simon Goodwin said, selection decisions will be based on form. So Jack Watts and Sam Frost are no certainties to return to the side after a rejigged forward line and new-look defence performed strongly against the Saints. Watts had 22 disposals and kicked one goal in an encouraging VFL effort, while Frost was the carryover emergency along with midfielder Corey Maynard. Despite collecting 28 disposals in the VFL at the weekend, Christian Salem will be unavailable for selection after accepting a one-match suspension for striking Carlton's Liam Sumner. In better news, star forward Jesse Hogan has been thrust into the selection mix and is a chance to return earlier than expected from a broken collarbone. However, much will depend on how he trains in full contact drills on Wednesday and Friday. Billy Stretch (29 disposals) and rookie Declan Keilty (22 disposals and 11 marks) were Casey's strongest performers on the weekend and will be considered. Tom Bugg has served his six-week suspension for striking Sydney's Callum Mills but will return via the VFL. - Ben Guthrie 

Skipper Jack Ziebell (foot) and forward/wingman Jarrad Waite (calf) are in the frame to return from injury for Sunday's clash with St Kilda. Majak Daw has been ruled out for the rest of the season whie the injury status of Mason Wood and Corey Wagner is unclear after multiple games out, and Nick Larkey was rested from both levels at the weekend. Outside of them, the Kangas may consider blooding an 11th debutant in Ben McKay, who has flourished in two matches as a full-time defender, or turn again to first-year dasher Josh Williams. Veteran Lindsay Thomas was back to some of his old goalkicking tricks in the VFL. – Marc McGowan 

Young gun Sam Powell-Pepper will return for Saturday's clash with the Western Bulldogs at Mars Stadium in Ballarat. The first-year midfielder was rested for last weekend's 27-point win over Collingwood after playing every game this season. Defender Matthew Broadbent is also a chance to return, but he's more likely to come back through the SANFL from an ankle injury. Jack Hombsch is also expected to play in the SANFL after sitting out with a hip problem. Nathan Krakouer and exciting draftee Todd Marshall – the No. 15 overall pick in last year's draft – both booted five goals for the Port Adelaide Magpies in their 92-point thumping of West Adelaide in the SANFL. Experienced trio Jackson Trengove (23 touches, two goals), Aaron Young (28 touches, two goals) and Angus Monfries (20 touches) had solid games in response to being dropped. - Lee Gaskin 

Nathan Krakouer has been in impressive form in the SANFL. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tigers have options at selection this week after Ben Lennon (three goals), Jack Graham (19 possessions and 11 tackles) and Jayden Short (21 and five inside 50s) put in strong VFL performances. They also have midfielder Anthony Miles on the fringe after the midfielder was squeezed out of the team last week. The Tigers were disappointing against Geelong and unforced changes are likely, with Josh Caddy (hamstring) also needing to be replaced. Miles was an emergency against the Cats and shapes as a likely inclusion, allowing other midfielders to push forward more and cover Caddy's absence. Graham is also pushing hard to make his debut, having built form nicely since returning from an ankle injury in round 13. - Nathan Schmook 

Champion forward Nick Riewoldt is expected to overcome concussion and return for Sunday afternoon's clash with North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium. Midfielder Koby Stevens is dealing with a head knock of his own, so if he isn't declared fit, Jack Lonie would be in line to be recalled. Sandringham had a bye in the VFL last weekend but the week prior, Lonie racked up 37 disposals, 26 contested possessions and two goals. Rowan Marshall and Josh Battle are other options if Riewoldt doesn't play and the Saints want to be taller in attack. - Dinny Navaratnam 

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Skipper Josh Kennedy will return for Friday night's monster clash with Adelaide if he can get through training on Wednesday, after missing two games with a hamstring issue. Kennedy hit the track on Monday and had no problems, so only needs to pull up well on Thursday to be on the plane. Ruckman Sam Naismith (side) will also try to put his hand up after also missing the past two games, but with Kurt Tippett and Callum Sinclair in solid form, he's likely to come back through the NEAFL. Coming off a 104-point win over Fremantle, coach John Longmire isn't likely to make any more changes, but with the Swans reserves on top of the NEAFL ladder he has plenty of players in form. Harry Cunningham (20 possessions and a goal) continued to work his way back from a foot injury, while Jordan Dawson (26 disposals and three goals), Daniel Robinson (36), Aliir Aliir (28 touches and two goals) and Oliver Florent (25 disposals and two goals) all dominated last week. In another great sign, Alex Johnson played his best game of the year when he gathered 23 possessions and took nine marks. - Adam Curley 

Aliir Aliir has his fans, but John Longmire hasn't been keen to pick him. Picture: AFL Photos

It seems touch-and-go whether veteran forward Mark LeCras will recover from a hamstring in time for the daunting road trip to face GWS this Saturday, while the Eagles will hope key defender Tom Barrass (groin) is fit to help contain the Giants' tall forwards. If not, Will Schofield might come back into the mix after being dropped for the Carlton win. There were some strong performances at East Perth, but nobody lit up the clash like Willie Rioli, who booted four goals and had a hand in several others in his first League game after a hamstring setback. The Eagles want to get the mature-age recruit into the line-up, however it does seem doubtful it will be this week. Last round's emergency Josh Hill and fellow small forward Malcolm Karpany are also in the wings. Young half-back Tom Cole (20 disposals) is also pushing for a recall. - Travis King

The premiers are a chance to welcome back defensive stars Jason Johannisen (hamstring) and Dale Morris (broken arm) for Saturday's crucial clash with Port Adelaide in Ballarat. Both just need to pass fitness tests to play in a game the Dogs have to win to play finals. In his last season at AFL level, veteran Matthew Boyd could also be considered if his troublesome Achilles has settled down. With impressive first-year defender Lewis Young struggling against the Giants, the 18-year-old may get a rest, Key defender Fletcher Roberts a likely replacement. Ruckman Tom Campbell is a chance to resume from an abdominal strain, but it's likely to be with Footscray in the VFL. After missing the past month with a facial infection, expect tough midfielder Mitch Honeychurch to play at state league level. Key forward Tom Boyd is also likely to return in the VFL after his mental illness battles.  - Ryan Davidson