L-R: Harry McKay, Tom Hawkins, Izak Rankine. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in round 23?

In this week's In the Mix we find the players who are giving their selectors plenty of food for thought.

Who's going out, who's sore, who is under the pump? Our reporters attempt to pick all the R23 ins and outs. Check it out.

Gun forward Izak Rankine is set to return from a hamstring injury, boosting the Crows' firepower in a must-win game against Sydney. Adelaide could also recall sidekick Josh Rachele to the 22 after he was substituted in against Brisbane in the third quarter for a lively seven disposals, six tackles and a goal. Wingman Brayden Cook was an emergency against the Lions and remains on the cusp. Standouts in the SANFL included forward Lachie Gollant (six goals), midfielder Jackson Hately (27 disposals and 16 tackles), and defender Patrick Parnell (29 and eight rebound 50s), with Sam Berry (25 and 12 tackles) also continuing a good recent run. – Nathan Schmook

R22 sub: Josh Rachele (replaced James Borlase) 


The Lions have a decision to make ahead of Friday night's blockbuster against Collingwood at Marvel Stadium, with who replaces forward Jack Gunston (knee). Do they go a taller option like Darcy Fort or a smaller set-up by elevating Jaspa Fletcher back in the 22 or inserting young dynamo Kai Lohmann, who kicked four goals in the VFL at the weekend. Keidean Coleman is also a strong chance to return after two weeks out with an eye injury, while Jarryd Lyons and Harry Sharp have kept the pressure on with strong form at the lower level. – Michael Whiting

R22 sub: Jaspa Fletcher (replaced Jack Gunston)


After eight straight wins, the news keeps getting better for the Blues with key forward and former Coleman Medal winner Harry McKay (knee) set to return ahead of schedule for this Saturday's clash with the Suns. Jack Silvagni (knee) is also a chance to feature, meaning coach Michael Voss could be forced to shuffle his pack to accommodate for a taller forward line. There are hopes that Adam Cerra (hamstring), Mitch McGovern (hamstring) and Sam Walsh (hamstring) will return next week, while Matt Kennedy (knee) should also be back before finals. Sam Docherty (calf) will be put through a fitness test later this week, but is no certainty to feature. Jordan Boyd (26 disposals, one goal) could be on standby as a potential replacement after an impressive display in the VFL, while Jaxon Binns (26 disposals, 10 marks) was also among the best. Small forward Corey Durdin (shoulder) could feature at some level this weekend as he continues his recovery from a series of injury issues. - Riley Beveridge

R22 sub: Ed Curnow (replaced Sam Docherty)

Sam Walsh and Jack Silvangi on the bench during Carlton's game against West Coast in R19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Craig McRae will be required to make at least one change with Darcy Moore sidelined due to a hamstring strain. Steele Sidebottom is pushing to return from the foot issue he has carried in recent weeks. Jordan De Goey and John Noble will need to prove their fitness after injury concerns. Mason Cox was dominant in the VFL with 52 hitouts and 17 touches. Fin Macrae put his hand up for another shot at AFL level with 25 touches against the Cats. Ed Allan was named in the 26-man squad last week. Reef McInnes slotted four goals from 16 touches in the wet. – Josh Gabelich

R22 sub: Jack Ginnivan (replaced Darcy Moore)


Although unconvincing, the Bombers are in the finals race after narrow wins over West Coast and North Melbourne in the past two weeks. They make the trip to face Greater Western Sydney in a virtual knockout final on Saturday and could be boosted by some huge returns, with Sam Draper (hip), Jake Stringer (foot), Dylan Shiel (foot) and Jye Caldwell (hip) potentially available. That would make for some tough selection decisions. Andrew Phillips or Nick Bryan would make way for Draper, while Jake Kelly (11 disposals) could come out after being moved around in recent weeks. A senior recall for Will Setterfield, recently back from injury, is a possibility, but the Bombers had a bye in the VFL on the weekend. – Dejan Kalinic

R22 sub: Will Snelling (replaced Nick Bryan)

Jake Stringer in action during Essendon's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers' options this week are in attack, where Bailey Banfield (four goals and seven inside 50s) produced a terrific WAFL performance to push his claims after recovering from a knee laceration. Key forward Matt Taberner could also be considered after kicking five goals across his two WAFL league games since returning from back surgery. Ruckman Liam Reidy (two goals and 19 disposals) has potential, and a late-season debut could be beneficial to both expose the 23-year-old and ease the ruck burden on young key forward Josh Treacy. Elevating Neil Erasmus into the 22 also has merit after he replaced a sore Josh Corbett against West Coast and had 11 disposals in just over a quarter. – Nathan Schmook 

R22 sub: Neil Erasmus (replaced Josh Corbett) 


Tom Hawkins could return for Saturday night's crunch game against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium after missing the past fortnight with a hamstring strain. Cam Guthrie is also pushing to return from a toe injury but might need a run in the VFL. Sam Menegola put his hand up for a senior return with 28 disposals and nine clearances. Oisin Mullin collected 17 disposals at Victoria Park after being included in the AFL squad. Mitch Knevitt and Mitch Hardie were both busy in the loss to Collingwood's reserves. – Josh Gabelich

R22 sub: Brandan Parfitt (replaced Gary Rohan)

Tom Hawkins kicks the ball during the match between Geelong and Essendon at GMHBA Stadium in round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

As the Suns prepare for their final home game of the season against Carlton on Saturday, Ben King is expected to return after missing last week's loss against Sydney with knee soreness. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Darwin Academy product Lloyd Johnston get a debut game after a strong patch of form in the VFL, while Brayden Fiorini keeps dominating at the lower level with 35 disposals and four goals at the weekend and Alex Davies and Connor Budarick continue to impress as well. – Michael Whiting

R22 sub: James Tsitas (replaced Elijah Hollands)


There are reinforcements coming for the Giants' depleted attack. Small forward duo Toby Bedford (suspension) and Brent Daniels (suspension) will both return ahead of Saturday's clash with the Bombers, which will act as a mini-elimination final for Adam Kingsley's side. The club's No.1 pick Aaron Cadman could also be surging towards a recall, having dominated in the VFL last week to finish with eight goals from 21 disposals, 12 marks and 11 scoring shots. James Peatling (38 disposals, eight tackles) was also impressive at reserves level, while ruckman Braydon Preuss (20 disposals, 26 hitouts) made a solid return from a long-term back injury. He's an outside chance to feature at AFL level before season's end. The club will hope that midfielder Finn Callaghan (Achilles) returns this week, while Ryan Angwin (illness) is also a chance to return after being withdrawn last weekend. - Riley Beveridge

 R22 sub: Jacob Wehr (replaced Nick Haynes)


Sam Mitchell will need to replace Chad Wingard for the clash against Melbourne after the dual All-Australian tore his Achilles on Sunday, while Mitch Lewis is in serious doubt due to a foot injury. Tyler Brockman played in the VFL after being managed a week earlier. Brandon Ryan was a late out on the weekend due to illness and could return for his third game. Seamus Mitchell was the carryover emergency and didn't play at either level after being dropped. Lachie Bramble was busy for Box Hill with 28 touches and seven marks. Fergus Greene kicked 3.3 on Saturday to keep his name in the frame to get another game. – Josh Gabelich

R22 sub: Bailey Macdonald (replaced Chad Wingard)


The Demons' forward line is still a work in progress, so expect some changes to be made again this week. Brodie Grundy could be on the outer just a week after returning to the side after the Demons appeared to abandon the forward experiment mid-game. Joel Smith swung into attack after half-time against the Blues and is likely to start there this week, meaning Adam Tomlinson could return to fill the hole in defence or Michael Hibberd could be elevated from the sub role. Tom McDonald (one goal, 10 disposals) had his first hitout since round 11 in the VFL but could be another option to throw into the forward mix, while Ben Brown might get the call-up if he passes a fitness test later in the week. Midfielders James Harmes (30 disposals), Bailey Laurie (30 disposals, one goal), Charlie Spargo (28 disposals, one goal), and Taj Woewodin (25 disposals, seven clearances) all pushed their claim for a spot with impressive performances at the lower level. – Alison O’Connor

 R22 sub: Michael Hibberd (replaced James Jordon)

Ben Brown in action during the round 19 clash between Melbourne and Adelaide at the MCG on July 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Kangaroos have ruled out George Wardlaw (hamstring) for their final two games, taking a conservative approach to his ongoing injury issues. Jaidyn Stephenson (thumb) will also miss this Saturday's clash with the Tigers, while Ben Cunnington will obviously go out of the team after hanging up the boots. Callum Coleman-Jones (concussion), Charlie Comben (ankle) and Cam Zurhaar (ankle) have also been ruled out for the remainder of the year. Tom Powell (leg) is a chance to feature this weekend, but Liam Shiels (calf) will miss at least another week. Jy Simpkin (arm) and Ben McKay (finger) will play, though, despite small knocks. The club's VFL outfit has just had the bye, so there is no exposed form to pick from. Charlie Lazzaro was the tactical substitute while Will Phillips, Dan Howe and Miller Bergman were among the emergencies. Expect them to be on standby this weekend. - Riley Beveridge

R22 sub: Charlie Lazzaro (replaced Jackson Archer)

Tom Powell celebrates a goal during the R14 match between North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on June 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

It's going to be hard for Ken Hinkley to make changes to the team that smacked Greater Western Sydney on Sunday. Travis Boak missed the victory through illness and should come back into consideration to face Fremantle in Perth, while Jackson Mead responded well in SANFL after being omitted. Orazio Fantasia is still probably a little way off, but returned from injury at the lower level over the weekend. – Michael Whiting

R22 sub: Francis Evans (replaced Sam Hayes)

Travis Boak handballs during round 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Richmond will make at least two changes, with Trent Cotchin to return for his final game after two weeks off with soreness. Formerly concussed pair Jacob Hopper and Ben Miller are also available for selection. Thomson Dow (21, four clearances) showed some nice signs in his second AFL game for the season, but unfortunately looks the most likely of the inside mids to make way for Hopper. The Tigers have to fit Cotchin in somehow, and it could be Matt Coulthard (seven disposals) who loses his spot, but he could be pushed out to the sub role. Tyler Sonsie racked up another 31 touches in the VFL, while Maurice Rioli jnr starred with 20, 13 tackles and seven clearances. Sam Banks should be on standby if Daniel Rioli's ankle doesn't come up. – Sarah Black

R22 sub: Rhyan Mansell (replaced Ivan Soldo)

Trent Cotchin with the 2017 premiership cup after announcing his retirement from AFL during a press conference at Punt Road Oval on August 10, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Sandringham had the VFL bye but Ross Lyon has some ready-made options if he needs them, although it will be hard to make changes given the performance on Sunday. Anthony Caminiti was squeezed out in favour of Tim Membrey for the clash against Richmond. Jack Billings, Ryan Byrnes and Ben Paton were all named in the 26-man squad. Jack Bytel has been in strong form at Sandringham, while Nick Coffield has been hunting an AFL return for the first time since he tore his ACL at the start of 2022. – Josh Gabelich

R22 sub: Hunter Clark (replaced Cooper Sharman)

Jack Bytel in action during the VFL R14 clash between Sandringham and Brisbane at Trevor Barker Beach Oval on June 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Swans have a decision to make on Joel Amartey, who has been cleared of serious injury but is nursing a tight hamstring. Given his history of hamstring issues, the Swans may take a cautious approach and recall Jack Buller after some good VFL form. Dane Rampe looks set to return, probably in place of Aaron Francis, while Lewis Melican is also back to full fitness if they need more tall defensive options to combat Adelaide's dangerous forward line. Braeden Campbell will be back from suspension, with Dylan Stephens the most likely to drop out. - Martin Smith

R22 sub: Ryan Clarke (replaced Joel Amartey)

Dane Rampe in action during Sydney's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 18, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Mid-season recruit Ryan Maric pulled up sore with a minor calf issue after the round 21 clash against Essendon, but the young forward was expected to only miss one match and should return. Likewise defender Brady Hough, who was a late withdrawal in bizarre circumstances after realising he may have breached game-day limits for Ventolin use. Speedster Jack Petruccelle had to be withdrawn ahead of the Derby with tonsilitis but should be available, with tall defender Rhett Bazzo (22 disposals and 11 marks) and midfielder Zane Trew (25 and two goals) pushing their case in the WAFL. – Nathan Schmook

R22 sub: Greg Clark (replaced Tom Cole)

Jack Petruccelle celebrates a goal during the R20 match between West Coast and North Melbourne at Optus Stadium on July 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Beveridge will need to replace Tom Liberatore for Sunday's game against West Coast after the inside midfielder entered concussion protocols. Toby McLean collected 28 disposals and nine clearances for Footscray to put his hand up for another shot. Ryan Gardner played in the VFL after battling a few niggles, while 2022 first-round pick Jedd Busslinger may run out of time for a debut this season but the key defender showed plenty at Box Hill City Oval on Saturday, finishing with 22 touches and nine marks. Hayden Crozier made a decent return from injury with 21 touches and nine marks. Buku Khamis was quiet after being included in the 26-man AFL squad. – Josh Gabelich

R22 sub: Oskar Baker (replaced Tom Liberatore)