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In the mix: finals week one

Staff writers  September 4, 2017 3:53 PM

AFL 2017 Round 20 - Geelong v Sydney

Joel Selwood is set to return for the qualifying final

The Crows are hoping midfield star Rory Sloane will be fit for Thursday night's qualifying final against Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval. Sloane is recovering from having his appendix removed last Tuesday. Skipper Taylor Walker (toe), key defender Daniel Talia (knee) and midfielder Hugh Greenwood (rested) will all return to the side after missing the round 23 loss to West Coast. Defender Alex Keath and winger Wayne Milera are set to be squeezed out. Veteran midfielder Scott Thompson could be another option to come into the side if Sloane is unable to play. - Lee Gaskin 

There are three massive ins who would bolster the Bombers' chances of pulling off an upset and beating Sydney at the SCG on Saturday. Bookends Michael Hurley (left calf strain) and Cale Hooker (leg bone bruising) are expected to return, while livewire forward Orazio Fantasia (right hamstring) is also likely to play for the first time since round 20. Essendon football manager Rob Kerr was "pretty optimistic" the trio would line up against the Swans. – Dinny Navaratnam 

All Australian Michael Hurley is a chance to line up for the Bombers against the Swans. Picture: AFL Photos

It's the most talked-about ankle in the country, and Joel Selwood will be doing everything he can to prove himself fit for Friday night's qualifying final against Richmond. Coach Chris Scott said on Sunday it was looking "more likely than unlikely" that Selwood would return from surgery to fix a syndesmosis issue in just 35 days, despite the Cats having a second chance if they lose. James Parsons will also be given every chance to prove he's over a mid-foot injury sustained in round 23, but he didn't train on Saturday. Nakia Cockatoo, who trained at a decent pace in the rehab group, will make a strong case to return from a hamstring injury, but given it's his third this season, it will be a big call to trust his body. The Cats' VFL side is done for the season, but Zach Guthrie could be considered to help out with the Tigers' mosquito fleet, Jackson Thurlow was omitted in round 22 and could win a call-up, and Rhys Stanley is available, but the structure needed against the one-ruck-happy Tigers could see him miss out. - Jennifer Phelan 

With the Giants' NEAFL side failing to qualify for the finals, coach Leon Cameron will be forced to look at training form if he wants to make changes for the trip to Adelaide. With veteran Steve Johnson struggling for form and battling a knee complaint, Matt de Boer is the man most likely to come in if Cameron has to leave Johnson in Sydney, with Tim Taranto, Harry Himmelberg, Sam Reid and Matt Kennedy other options. Defensive forwards de Boer and Reid could be used if GWS decides to put a stop on Crows backmen Rory Laird or Brodie Smith. Taranto, who has only played one match since he suffered a serious ankle injury against the Brisbane Lions in round 14, gathered 30 disposals in the NEAFL a fortnight ago, and could add hardness across half forward. Himmelberg has filled in as a back-up ruckman/tall forward in the past and could come in if Cameron decides against going with three tall options inside 50 in Jeremy Cameron, Jon Patton and Rory Lobb. - Adam Curley

Experience or youth? That's the question facing the Power ahead of Saturday night's elimination final with West Coast at Adelaide Oval. Utility Jackson Trengove and forward Jarman Impey will be considered for a senior recall. Trengove picked up a head knock in the last quarter of Port Adelaide's 15-point win against Sturt in the SANFL qualifying final last Saturday, while Impey made an impact with his pressure and can also play in defence. Aaron Young (29 possessions, six tackles) found plenty of ball in the midfield for the Magpies. Matthew Broadbent has been ruled out as he continues to struggle with his ankle injury, despite two games in the SANFL. - Lee Gaskin 

A head knock in the SANFL may keep Jackson Trengove from a recall. Picture: AFL Photos

Forward Josh Caddy appears set to return from a hamstring injury. The former Cat trained fully on Friday and started Monday's session with the main group, running at full pace and completing kicking drills. The Tigers have significant depth pushing up in the VFL if they make more than one change, with midfielder Anthony Miles (37 possessions, nine clearances, six inside 50s and a goal) dominant in the elimination final win against Collingwood's VFL team. Forward Sam Lloyd (36 and a goal) and Corey Ellis (26 and a goal) were important, with big man Shaun Hampson (36 hit-outs) a standout in the ruck. Ben Griffiths is available if a second tall forward is needed. Small forward Shai Bolton (two goals in the VFL) is a wildcard option. - Nathan Schmook   

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With Dan Hannebery and Tom Papley set to be fit for Saturday's elimination final against Essendon, and ruckman Sam Naismith also right to go, it could be a long selection meeting for the Swans. Hannebery (hip) and Papley (knee) missed the Swans' round 23 win over Carlton but will look to hit the track on Tuesday to press their claims, after doing some running over the bye weekend. Naismith (hip) made an impressive return in the NEAFL on Saturday after not playing since round 19, to put some pressure on ruck duo Kurt Tippett and Callum Sinclair, who have been solid for Sydney over the final month of the regular season. The Swans' reserves easily won through to this week's Grand Final, with Jordan Dawson, Daniel Robinson, Jordan Foote, Harry Marsh, Oliver Florent, Aliir Aliir and James Rose all maintaining their good form, but there doesn't seem to be many opportunities for them to get a look in. - Adam Curley

The Eagles should take a relatively settled line-up to face Port Adelaide in Saturday night's elimination final, but they are weighing up the selection gamble of naming Willie Rioli for a stunning debut. The electric small forward booted six goals and averaged nearly 13 touches on limited game time in his past three WAFL matches following hamstring issues and was recruited to fill a need crumbing at the feet of Josh Kennedy. Father-son recruit Jake Waterman, who is also yet to debut, was an emergency for the round 23 win over Adelaide and is another option to boost West Coast's firepower, although he had a modest nine touches and a goal in East Perth's final match of the season nine days ago. Veteran Sharrod Wellingham has been in and out of the line-up in the second half of the year but was outstanding in his last hit-out for the Royals with 30 touches and two goals. His versatility could be a factor, while Will Schofield's experience in defence will keep him in the frame. - Travis King  

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