L-R: Darcy Moore, Max King, Patrick Cripps. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in the first week of finals?

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 ins and outs for the first week of finals. Check it out.

Aside from Lincoln McCarthy returning from injury, don't expect too many changes from the Lions to face Port Adelaide at the Gabba on Saturday night. McCarthy missed the final round against St Kilda with a calf injury, but has recovered and will line up again at half-forward. The only genuine decision for coach Chris Fagan and his match committee is who to leave out and that will come down to either Jarryd Lyons or Deven Robertson depending on whether they want inside grunt or versatility. - Michael Whiting

R24 sub: Kai Lohmann (replaced Jarryd Lyons)

Lincoln McCarthy waves to the crowd after the R22 match between Brisbane and Adelaide at the Gabba on August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues will certainly regain Patrick Cripps (soreness) and Sam Docherty (soreness) for Friday night's elimination final against the Swans. Jesse Motlop (illness) will also be available for selection and should return. Marc Pittonet is another option, after coach Michael Voss trialled Harry McKay as a second ruck in round 24 to little success. Blake Acres (collarbone) will undergo a fitness test on Thursday, but the club is hopeful he will play after making it through Tuesday's main session. Matt Kennedy (knee) was available for selection against the Giants in round 24, but wasn't picked. However, Jack Silvagni (knee) will definitely miss. - Riley Beveridge 

R24 sub: Caleb Marchbank (replaced Blake Acres)

Sam Docherty with fans at a Carlton training session at Ikon Park on September 2, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Craig McRae will face some tough calls at selection this week. Darcy Moore has recovered from a hamstring strain and is ready to play, as is Nathan Murphy after he missed round 24. Both will slot into the back six against Melbourne. Beau McCreery has served a one-game suspension for a dangerous tackle and should return to the 23. Fin Macrae was the sub against Essendon. With Reef McInnes, Ash Johnson and Josh Carmichael all set to be unavailable, Collingwood's depth has taken a hit but the squad bats deeper than it did this time last year. - Josh Gabelich

R24 sub: Fin Macrae (replaced Jamie Elliott)

Nathan Murphy on the sidelines during the R23 match between Collingwood and Brisbane at Marvel Stadium on August 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Giants will decide on the fitness of Finn Callaghan (Achilles) and Sam Taylor (hamstring) during Thursday's main session, with both completing light duties on Tuesday. However, Toby Bedford (suspension) will need to overturn his one-match ban at the AFL Appeal Board on Thursday in order to be available for Saturday's elimination final against the Saints. Xavier O'Halloran (thumb) could be an option to replace him, after making his comeback in a VFL scratch match last weekend. Braydon Preuss (soreness) is also fit and available. - Riley Beveridge

R24 sub: Nick Haynes (replaced Toby McMullin)

Finn Callaghan during Greater Western Sydney's training session on September 5, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

The Demons held back a host of fringe players from Casey's side on the weekend to keep everyone guessing on the make-up of their qualifying final team to face Collingwood. Tom McDonald, Brodie GrundyCharlie SpargoAdam TomlinsonJosh SchacheJames Jordon and Taj Woewodin all sat out of the VFL elimination final, however McDonald looks the most likely to get the call-up to replace in-form forward Jake Melksham (knee). Premiership defender Michael Hibberd has exited concussion protocols and is a chance to return, in which case Joel Smith could play forward to open a spot for Hibberd in defence. – Alison O'Connor

R24 sub: Bailey Laurie (replaced Jake Melksham)

Tom McDonald during a Melbourne training session at Casey Fields on September 4, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

There will be some much-needed key position help on the way for Port as it prepares for the difficult assignment of facing Brisbane at the Gabba. Todd Marshall will be back after missing the final round with hip soreness, while ruckman Scott Lycett played a SANFL match at the weekend to prove his fitness from a knee problem. Trent McKenzie (knee) has missed a month of footy and is racing the clock to be available and support Aliir Aliir in the key defensive posts. Full-forward Charlie Dixon is still at least another week away, the club says. - Michael Whiting

R24 sub: Dylan Williams (replaced Sam Hayes)

Todd Marshall and Tren McKenzie run laps at Port Adelaide training at Alberton Oval on September 5, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Ross Lyon has plenty of options this week with almost a full list of first-choice players to pick from. Max King will return after being managed against Brisbane in round 24, while Dougal Howard and Josh Battle are both available. Howard hasn't played since fracturing his wrist in round 19, but was cleared this week. Seb Ross is racing the clock to be fit in time for Saturday. Jack Billings, Nick Coffield and Tom Campbell were all included in the 26-man squad for the trip to Queensland in the final game of the home and away season. - Josh Gabelich

R24 sub: Ryan Byrnes (replaced Josh Battle)

Dougal Howard marks the ball during the R19 match between St Kilda and North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on July 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The only question mark for the Swans this week is the fitness of Justin McInerney, who is a test after being sidelined by a calf problem since round 20. Dylan Stephens could be the one to make way if McInerney returns and could take on the sub role. Tom Papley has recovered from a hamstring issue and will be available, likely in place of Ryan Clarke. – Martin Smith

R24 sub: Aaron Francis (unused)

Tom Papley celebrates a goal during the R22 match between Sydney and Gold Coast at the SCG on August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos