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In the mix: round six

Rory Sloane is likely to return from injury - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs,In the Mix
Rory Sloane is likely to return from injury

Get them in: A few reinforcements could be on the way, with Rory Sloane (foot) and Matt Crouch (hamstring) facing fitness tests this week, and David Mackay (concussion) and Lachlan Murphy (hamstring) cleared to play.

Under the pump: Youngsters Jordan Gallucci and Myles Poholke could consider themselves unlucky to be squeezed out.

Medical room: Defender Kyle Hartigan (hamstring) is set to miss a few weeks. Goal-sneak Eddie Betts is another week away.

Verdict: If fit, Sloane, Crouch and Mackay for Hartigan, Gallucci and Poholke. - Lee Gaskin

Get them in: After being dropped last week, Sam Mayes bounced back in ideal fashion, racking up 31 disposals in the NEAFL. Brandon Starcevich is also getting closer to a debut.

Under the pump: Just one week back from the reserves, Ryan Bastinac had a quietish game against the Suns and would want a better showing next up.

Medical room: Dayne Zorko will be fine after injuring his elbow against the Suns, while Daniel Rich (ankle) is also a chance to play if he gets through Thursday's main session.

Verdict: Despite a fifth straight loss, it would be a slight surprise to see any changes, although if Rich is passed fit, he'd likely come straight back in. - Michael Whiting

Get them in: The Northern Blues had a bye last weekend, so have to go on previous week's form. Rookies Kym Lebois and Matt Shaw might be in contention for elevation.

Under the pump: Cameron O'Shea made several errors last Saturday that cost goals. Jed Lamb was quiet on his return to the seniors, while Jack Silvagni had little impact.

Medical room: Ruckman Matthew Kreuzer (groin), midfielder Matthew Kennedy (ankle), and defenders Caleb Marchbank (ankle) and  Jacob Weitering (corked thigh) will return if they pass fitness tests.

Verdict: Depends heavily on who is fit to return. There are likely to be two to three changes. - Howard Kotton

Get them in: Quality trio Taylor Adams, Darcy Moore and Jamie Elliott are chances to return from hamstring issues for the big clash with Richmond on Sunday. Alex Fasolo has been in good touch in the VFL and Daniel Wells is also staking a claim.

Under the pump: Ben Crocker has been workmanlike but is likely to be squeezed out to make way for more established players.

Medical room: Adams (hamstring), Moore (hamstring) and Elliott (hamstring) are all on their way back.

Verdict: Regardless of the status of Adams, Moore and Elliott, Fasolo appears a good inclusion. Given the four-day break, some other fresh legs might also be required. - Ben Collins

Off the bench: Kyle Langford, Ben McNiece and Mason Redman were named emergencies for the Pies clash so will be around the mark with at least two forced changes for the Melbourne meeting after only a four-day break. Shaun McKernan may also come into contention, while Jayden Laverde is getting close as well.

Under the pump: Jackson Merrett and Matt Guelfi were far from the Bombers' worst with 15 disposals each but are yet to lock in their place.

Medical room: Josh Begley
appears to have suffered a serious knee injury, while Josh Green will head for scans on his hamstring. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti looked a shadow of his electric best with his left knee strapped. Essendon will be sweating on the fitness of Orazio Fantasia, who missed Wednesday's clash with a groin issue, while a calf problem has kept Mitch Brown out of the past two games and he could be available.

Verdict: 
The Bombers' best in the VFL, Langford, should earn a recall, while Fantasia will return if fit. Laverde's ability to play in attack will be considered and McKernan's flexibility has him in line if a key position player doesn't handle the quick turnaround.

Get them in: With the Eagles boasting a tall forward line and back-up ruckman Matt Taberner (foot) going down, versatile veteran Michael Johnson seems likely to return.

Under the pump: After a composed debut, Taylin Duman would be very stiff to be dropped but Freo's need for more height could squeeze him out.

Medical room: Doig medallist Bradley Hill is a week-by-week proposition due to bruising in his knee but would be a very handy inclusion.

Verdict: Johnson looks likely to return for Duman given his ability to cover in the ruck and play on an Eagles marking forward. But perhaps Brennan Cox comes into consideration to play Taberner's role. - Travis King

Michael Johnson is likely to return for the derby clash with West Coast. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Cory Gregson will be considered after moving well at training and Tom Hawkins (back spasms) should return. Dropped travelling emergency Zach Guthrie is a chance, while Stewart Crameri and Charlie Constable continue to push their case and Aaron Black impressed as a defender in the VFL.

Under the pump: Jordan Cunico (15 disposals) and Jordan Murdoch (16 disposals) are yet to lock in their spots, while James Parsons' two goals from nine disposals may have saved him.

Medical room: Concussed against Port Adelaide, Scott Selwood will need to do everything right to prove his fitness. 

Verdict: Hawkins for Scott Selwood, pending back spasms. Gregson will have his eyes on Parsons' spot, while Constable remains close to a debut. Zach Guthrie may be earmarked for one of Sydney's small forwards. - Mitch Cleary

Get them in: He's only a rookie, but youngster Jacob Heron has been killing it at NEAFL level and is closing in on a call-up. Charlie Ballard also impressed at the lower level.

Under the pump: After a quiet start against the Lions, Jesse Lonergan worked his way into the game and would like a more immediate impact this week against the Crows.

Medical room: The Suns will have to find a replacement for energetic small forward Darcy MacPherson (broken leg).  Peter Wright (calf) is still another week away from returning in the NEAFL.

Verdict: The Suns will need to make one change with MacPherson's injury. Aaron Hall would be an easy elevation, but if Dew wants forward pressure, he might go for Heron. - Michael Whiting

Get them in: The Giants have young defender Isaac Cumming in good form so he could add some speed to the side, with Zac Langdon (hand) also in contention to return.

Under the pump: Forwards Harry Himmelberg and Daniel Lloyd have struggled for form over the past fortnight, while Dawson Simpson's mobility remains an issue and his spot depends on the fitness of Rory Lobb.

Medical room: Star midfielder Josh Kelly (groin) and ruckman Rory Lobb (knee) didn't train on Tuesday but remain a chance for the Brisbane clash if they can get through Wednesday's main session.

Verdict: Langdon should return to add some forward pressure, while Kelly and Lobb will play if fit. - Adam Curley

Get them in: Hawk fans are clamouring for the inclusion of the Worpedo (midfielder James Worpel) who was held out of the VFL last week as the 'in case' emergency. Jonathan O'Rourke and Brendan Whitecross each had 34 touches for Box Hill.

Under the pump: Ryan Burton is public enemy No.1 after beating the rap with the match review officer, but his form has been patchy in any event. James Sicily's suspension might save him for structural reasons.

Medical room: Liam Shiels (back) missed stages of the game, but the Hawks say he will be fine. Shaun Burgoyne will be back from a hamstring strain.

Verdict: Alastair Clarkson will likely give the remainder of last week's team the chance to redeem themselves if only because the second half against the Kangas was much better. Burgoyne for the suspended Sicily if I were picking the team. - Ashley Browne

Get them in: A five-day turnaround to the game against the Bombers should see changes to the Demons' team. Bayley Fritsch and Mitch Hannan loom as the likely replacements for the injured Dean Kent. Cameron Pedersen, Tim Smith, Joel Smith, Tom McDonald and Jordan Lewis are also sneaky chances to return.

Under the pump: Alex Neal-Bullen, Billy Stretch and James Harmes will be under pressure to keep their spots.

Medical room: Kent could miss up to a month with a hamstring injury, with Lewis (hand), Tom McDonald (foot) and Neville Jetta (ankle) to face fitness tests. Jack Viney is still up to two weeks away from resuming.

Verdict: Fritsch for Kent and Hannan for one of Neal-Bullen or Harmes. The Demons need some game changers in the lineup. - Ben Guthrie

Get them in: Luke Davies-Uniacke was rested last week and, depending on North’s plans for him, should make an immediate return.Sam Wright was quieter in the VFL last week, but was in great form before that. Paul Ahern won lots of the ball again as he regains match fitness, while Nathan Hrovat (thumb) is a contender to return if he is fit.

Under the pump: North's defensive structure is working a treat, but Ed Vickers-Willis was exposed on occasion before suffering concussion in the third quarter against Hawthorn. Jy Simpkin has won only 32 disposals in the past three games, but is likely to be persevered with.

Medical room: Most interest is centered on whether Shaun Higgins and Vickers-Willis (both concussion) play. Taylor Garner (groin) played three quarters in the VFL in his season debut at the weekend and will be eased back, while Hrovat will push to play at either level this week.

Verdict: Much depends on Higgins' and Vickers-Willis' health. There is a strong chance North will be unchanged for Saturday's clash with Port Adelaide if doctors give the pair the all-clear. Davies-Uniacke looms as the most likely inclusion. - Marc McGowan.

Nathan Hrovat may be back for North if he's fit. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Forward Aidyn Johnson is a strong chance to replace Lindsay Thomas. Todd Marshall is on indefinite leave following the death of his father. Sam Powell-Pepper's availability is up in the air pending an AFL investigation. Tom Rockliff and Jasper Pittard will play in the SANFL on Anzac Day.

Under the pump: Apart from needing to replace Thomas, Karl Amon could be under some pressure form Dom Barry.

Medical room: Rockliff will make his return from a calf injury in the SANFL.

Verdict: Johnson to replace Thomas. - Lee Gaskin

Get them in: Jack Graham is available after serving a one-match suspension, while Nick Vlastuin and Josh Caddy are hoping to put their hands up after missing the Anzac Eve win with minor injuries.

Under the pump: Jacob Townsend wasn't at his best against the Demons and missing a goal from a metre out won't help his cause. Sam Lloyd kicked two but might not hold on after replacing Caddy.

Medical room: Vlastuin (calf) and Caddy (hamstring) will have fitness tests. There were no fresh injuries on Tuesday night, but the five-day break will no doubt test some.

Verdict: The Tigers are flying so changes aren't vital. Graham will come back but Jack Higgins' three goals presents a selection challenge. Caddy should displace Lloyd but it's less clear-cut on who goes out for Vlastuin if fit – maybe Nathan Broad or even Brandon Ellis. The short turnaround could throw up some surprises. - Jennifer Phelan

Get them in: Defender Jimmy Webster (hip flexor) and forward Rowan Marshall (concussion) aren't far away, while midfielders David Armitage (33 disposals) and Ed Phillips (32) impressed in the VFL.

Under the pump: Youngster Hunter Clark started quietly but improved in the final term in the draw against Greater Western Sydney.

Medical room: Wingman Jack Newnes will be monitored after being concussed last Saturday but he looks to be tracking well.

Verdict: Webster in for Clark, who would be a touch unlucky. - Dinny Navaratnam

David Armitage was impressive in the VFL after being dropped. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Nic Newman and Robbie Fox are in consistent form and just need an opportunity, while Darcy Cameron could be an option to give the side some height, along with Aliir Aliir.

Under the pump: Young forward Will Hayward hasn't kicked a goal since round three and hasn't given the Swans the pressure they need inside 50.

Medical room: Superstar forward Lance Franklin (bruised heel) and midfielder Dan Hannebery (groin) have already been ruled out of the Geelong clash, but Lewis Melican (hamstring) is a chance to return.

Verdict: Newman gives the side a midfield/back option and some good foot skills in either position, while Cameron and Aliir will likely fight for Franklin's spot in the forward half. - Adam Curley

Get them in: Jack Petruccelle booted four goals for East Perth and has the legspeed (he ran the quickest 20m sprint at the NAB AFL Draft Combine) to play Daniel Venables' role across half-forward. Could last year's 39th pick debut in the derby?

Under the pump: Team balance hasn't worked in Mark Hutchings' favour this season and he might be on the outer again if Adam Simpson brings in more pace.

Medical room: The Eagles will want Lewis Jetta back to provide some dash and elite kicking from half-back after missing the Carlton win due to general soreness.

Verdict: Jetta should be back, probably for Hutchings, but do the Eagles need more pace to combat Freo's runners at Optus Stadium? - Travis King

Get them in: Midfielder Lachie Hunter is available after suspension, while defensive playmakers Hayden Crozier (knee) and Bailey Williams (ear) are likely to be fit. Versatile big man Jackson Trengove was solid in the VFL resuming from a cracked shoulder blade.

Under the pump: Wingman Bailey Dale isn't having the same impact as last year and needs a spell in the VFL. Mitch Honeychurch and Lin Jong need to improve their disposal with the Dogs employing a ball-retention game-plan.

Medical room: Forward Tory Dickson will miss up to month with a hamstring injury. Luke Dahlhaus is battling a sore knee and may need a rest.

Verdict: With the Dogs needing an injection of class, Dale and Jong could make way for Hunter and Crozier. - Ryan Davidson

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