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AFL releases fixture for JLT Community Series

JLT Community Series fixture released A Footy Feed update looking towards the pre-season

WEDNESDAY night football will be trialed in next year's pre-season with the AFL scheduling two games in the timeslot despite shortening the JLT Community Series.

Teams will play only two matches each, and all non-Victorian teams won't travel for their second match.

Carlton will play St Kilda on Wednesday 28 February while Richmond takes on North Melbourne on Wednesday March 7. Both games will be played under lights at Ikon Park.

Unlike last season there will be no double-headers with AFLW.

The shortened pre-season format will be played across a three-week stretch and wind up on March 11.

The first weekend (February 24-25) sees four matches played on Saturday and Sunday, while there are Wednesday and Thursday night matches in weeks two and three. 

Check out the full fixture here

Homecoming superstar Gary Ablett might not have to wait long before facing his former Gold Coast teammates, with Geelong set to take on the Suns in the clubs' pre-season opener in Far North Queensland.

It could be the dual Brownlow medallist's first official hit-out for the Cats after he was traded back to the club where he played in two premierships. 

However, it remains to be seen if Ablett will travel to Townsville for the Suns clash on Sunday, March 4.

Other highlights include Essendon meeting reigning premiers Richmond in Wangaratta (Victoria) on February 24, when the Bombers could unveil their trio of recruits Jake Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad.

In 2012, the Bombers' decision to fly to Wangaratta was heavily criticised after they were forced to turnaround due to bad weather. Their opponents St Kilda was already there and ended up playing an intraclub match.

Carlton and St Kilda are set for a night clash at Ikon Park on Wednesday, February 28, while the Western Bulldogs will host Hawthorn at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on March 3.

The AFL has not scheduled a pre-season match at the new Perth Stadium, building the anticipation for Fremantle and West Coast's first home and away games at the world-class 60,000-seat venue.

The Eagles won't travel during pre-season after copping a nightmare trip to regional New South Wales last year, but Freo heads to Strathalbyn (South Australia) on Sunday, February 25 to face the Crows.

West Coast will host Port Adelaide at Leederville Oval in Perth on the same day, in what could be Brendon Ah Chee's first game against his ex-Power teammates.

All 18 clubs will have a bye during one of the two opening weekends, but each team will be in action in the final round from March 7-11.

Matches will again be taken to regional and suburban venues, but minimising travel in the final round was a priority.

The Giants and Swans will clash at Blacktown again next year. Picture: AFL Photos

Eight Melbourne-based clubs will meet at regional Victorian and metro venues to wrap up their pre-season, while Hawthorn will host Carlton in Launceston.

Local rivalries between Adelaide and the Power (Alberton Oval), Fremantle and West Coast (Joondalup), the Swans and Giants (Blacktown), plus Lions and Gold Coast (Southport) have also been scheduled.

"Matches at regional and suburban venues align with the work that JLT does within the football community," the League's general manager clubs and broadcasting Travis Auld said.

"And recent experience over the last decade has shown us that football fans have embraced pre-season matches played at venues that don’t normally host AFL matches, while our players are able to return to the communities where they had their starts as young players.

"Many of those communities cannot regularly access AFL football during our premiership season, due to distance or other constraints, and it is incredibly important that we take matches in the JLT Community Series to venues that don’t usually host games when we have the opportunity to do so."

All 18 games will be broadcast on Fox Footy and available via the AFL Live app.