Jeremy Howe, Esava Ratugolea and Sam Draper. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in round one?

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 R1 ins and outs. Check it out.

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The loss of Riley Thilthorpe (knee) has brought Chris Burgess into calculations as a tall replacement in attack against his former team. Sam Berry has also moved to the selection forefront after an excellent performance against West Coast, with his hard-tackling likely to be an asset against the Suns' inside midfielders. Jake Soligo has been on watch with an ankle issue but looks ready to go after managed minutes against the Eagles. Lachlan Sholl was terrific on wing in the Crows' final practice game and is part of the planned team. A long period of unavailability with knee soreness will likely cost draftee Daniel Curtin a round one debut. – Nathan Schmook


The big question is who replaces Keidean Coleman (knee) for Sunday's trip to face Fremantle in Perth? The short-term solution is to recall Conor McKenna, who is close to returning from a hamstring injury, but if the Irishman can't prove his fitness, watch for Jaxon Prior, Noah Answerth or Jimmy Madden to come in. Despite losing first-up to Carlton, don't expect too many changes for the Lions, although Kai Lohmann (who was the sub last week) and Jimmy Tunstill are knocking the door down to get into the 22. - Michael Whiting


The Blues will lose the inspirational Sam Docherty (knee) for the rest of the season in a bitter blow for the entire club. Jack Carroll replaced him as the substitute and had 10 disposals, four clearances and a goal in an influential second half. He should come into the starting 22 this week. Jesse Motlop (toe) faces a late fitness test to decide whether he'll be available for Thursday night's clash with the Tigers, while Alex Cincotta and Jaxon Binns could also be options to come into the squad. – Riley Beveridge


Premiership defender Jeremy Howe could be available for Friday night's game against Sydney after missing Opening Round due to a corked calf. Fin Macrae was considered stiff to be overlooked on the weekend and will come under consideration after a strong summer. Ash Johnson claimed Dan McStay's spot first-up ahead of Reef McInnes but could come under pressure after only touching the ball twice against GWS. Charlie Dean was picked for a debut at Engie Stadium, while Billy Frampton was squeezed out of the 23 after playing in last year's Grand Final. Craig McRae might reconsider the composition of the back six after an underwhelming defensive effort to start the season. – Josh Gabelich

Jeremy Howe looks on during Collingwood's official team photo day at AIA Centre on February 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers' big selection question this week is around Sam Draper, with the ruckman having now played in two VFL practice matches ahead of round one. Essendon will be without midfielder Darcy Parish (hamstring) and important defender Jordan Ridley (quad) for the clash with the Hawks. Ben McKay, Jade Gresham and Xavier Duursma are all set to make their club debuts, while Todd Goldstein is also likely to feature. Ben Hobbs is available after playing in a VFL practice match last week and the midfielder could be Parish's replacement. – Dejan Kalinic

Sam Draper runs with the ball during a training session at The Hangar on February 17, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Moving Luke Jackson into the No.1 ruck role to cover Sean Darcy (knee) creates an issue for the Dockers, leaving their forward structure in need of another marking target. Pre-season selection Pat Voss could earn an AFL debut as a result, while veteran forward Matt Taberner is an option, making Josh Treacy the back-up ruckman. The less likely scenario is Fremantle selects ruckman Liam Reidy to debut and leaves Jackson forward. There is confidence key defender Brennan Cox (leg) will be passed fit, but Brandon Walker is less likely, making Ethan Hughes a likely selection in defence. Tall defender Oscar McDonald is waiting to make his club debut if required to cover Cox. Jeremy Sharp played managed minutes with Peel Thunder to push his case and should get first crack at a wing role. Cooper Simpson has speed and would be a valuable inclusion on debut, potentially as a sub if not in the 22. – Nathan Schmook

Brennan Cox in action during the match between West Coast and Fremantle at Optus Stadium in round 22, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

It’s a familiar looking line-up for the Cats ahead of their clash with St Kilda, with only Cam Guthrie (quad) and Gary Rohan (back) set to miss from their best 23. Jhye Clark, the No.8 pick in the 2022 AFL Draft, is a good chance to play just his second game, while mature-age VFL recruit Shaun Mannagh is knocking on the door of his top-flight debut after a strong summer. - Michael Rogers

Jhye Clark at Geelong training in November, 2023. Picture: Geelong FC

It's hard to see Damien Hardwick making any changes for Saturday night's match against Adelaide after the Opening Round victory against Richmond. Darcy Macpherson was the substitute against the Tigers and has been around the mark all pre-season, while Mac Andrew is ready to be called in should Hardwick want some extra defensive height against the Crows' tall forwards. James Tsitas could also come into consideration as a half-forward or wingman after being unavailable for the first match following a suspension from last year's VFL Grand Final. - Michael Whiting

Mac Andrew celebrates with fans after the R15 match between Gold Coast and Hawthorn at Heritage Bank Stadium on June 25, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Veteran midfielder Callan Ward (shoulder) is set to miss up to two months, while Isaac Cumming (calf) has also faced a setback in his recovery. Finn Callaghan (foot) was due to play this week against the Kangaroos, but stepped on a nail at the beach on Saturday and will now face a late fitness test. Harry Perryman (hamstring) has been cleared and would appear as an obvious inclusion, but that would mean juggling the midfield rotation in Ward's absence. – Riley Beveridge


Dylan Moore missed both scratch matches against the Western Bulldogs due to glandular fever, but Hawthorn's vice-captain is on track to be out there against Essendon this weekend. Josh Weddle was managed in the AAMI Community Series but will be available this weekend. Seamus Mitchell has recovered from a broken jaw. Will Day had already been ruled out of round one with a return timeline to become clearer next week. Jack Ginnivan, Mabior Chol and Massimo D'Ambrosio all arrived on deadline day last October and look ready to slot in, while prized pick Nick Watson is pushing for a round one debut. Ethan Phillips is in the hunt to debut in round one, just weeks after being signed via the SSP. – Josh Gabelich

Dylan Moore poses during Hawthorn's official team photo day at Waverley Park on February 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The Demons will need to find a replacement for nimble defender Jake Bowey, who suffered a broken collarbone against Sydney. Christian Salem spent considerable time in the midfield against the Swans but may need to return to the backline to fill that void. Kysaiah Pickett is available after his one-week suspension and should find his way straight back into the side. Key tall Harrison Petty will undergo a fitness test at training on Thursday and will be available for selection if he makes it through, although a return via a VFL practice match  seems most likely. After being left out of the line-up to face the Swans, Tom McDonald (23 disposals, seven marks), Taj Woewodin (20, seven) and Ben Brown (two goals) pressed their claims for selection in VFL action on the weekend. – Alison O'Connor


The Kangaroos are hopeful that Aidan Corr (ankle) will be fit to face the Giants this weekend, but they are less certain that co-captain Luke McDonald (hamstring) will be available. Jy Simpkin (concussion) has already been ruled out, which could mean Nick Larkey assumes the role as skipper. He could lead a side with as many as five new faces. Colby McKercher and Zane Duursma will both make their AFL debuts, while Toby Pink could be asked to anchor the side's backline. Zac Fisher and Dylan Stephens have also settled in nicely and should earn their first appearances for the club. - Riley Beveridge

There should be a few new faces for Port's round one match against West Coast on Sunday, with off-season recruits Esava Ratugolea, Brandon Zerk-Thatcher and Ivan Soldo all likely to be selected. All-Australian midfielder Zak Butters has also overcome an ankle injury to take his place. Who plays in place of suspended Sam Powell-Pepper is a tricky decision, with Jed McEntee right in the hunt. Jase Burgoyne and Jackson Mead are also vying to force their way into the 23. - Michael Whiting

Zak Butters celebrates a goal for Port Adelaide against Essendon in R16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

There'll be changes aplenty at Punt Road regardless of last week's heavy loss, with Tom Lynch, Dustin Martin and Toby Nankervis all fit to play. After a strong off-season, expect Rhyan Mansell to also be in the mix given he has now overcome his ankle injury. Noah Balta looked best when playing as the second ruck last week, and coupled with the return of Nankervis may push out both Sam Naismith and Samson Ryan. Thomson Dow only had six disposals from 72 per cent game time (although his pressure acts were the highest for the side), but needs extended time at the top level. Maurice Rioli didn't have a heap of the ball and may have to make way for Martin, despite his strong pressure throughout the game – Sarah Black

Darcy Wilson will make his debut on Saturday night after being selected at pick No.18 in last November's AFL Draft. Riley Bonner is set to play his first game for the Saints after being delisted by Port Adelaide last September. Jack Sinclair is pushing to play after being plagued by a calf issue late in the pre-season. Marcus Windhager is also aiming to be available after breaking his hand late last month, and Zaine Cordy is expected to come in after Dougal Howard suffered a hamstring strain against North Melbourne in the AAMI Community Series. Josh Battle missed the game against the Kangaroos but will be fine to face the Cats at GMHBA Stadium. – Josh Gabelich

Darcy Wilson during the AAMI Community Series match between North Melbourne and St Kilda. Picture: AFL Photos

After a strong first up performance and with Taylor Adams, Luke Parker and Callum Mills still sidelined, it's hard to envisage the Swans making many changes for their clash with the reigning premier on Friday night. Angus Sheldrick was desperately unlucky to be an emergency last week, but a 3-4 week finger injury suffered in the VFL has delayed his hopes of winning a senior recall. Sam Wicks provided plenty of spark late as the sub and could fill that role again this week. - Martin Smith

Sam Wicks celebrates a goal during the Opening Round match between Sydney and Melbourne at the SCG on March 7, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

No.1 draft pick Harley Reid should make his debut after an excellent pre-season game against Adelaide, while small forward Tyler Brockman is expected to play his first game for West Coast if cleared of a knee issue. Co-captain Oscar Allen, who missed the clash against the Crows with a knee complaint, will also return. The issue for the Eagles is the ruck, where Bailey Williams will need support. That could come from versatile tall Callum Jamieson, who proved himself as a tall defender during the pre-season. Reuben Ginbey will be back after concussion, and Andrew Gaff will likely be part of the wing set-up. – Nathan Schmook 

Harley Reid during West Coast's match simulation against Fremantle on February 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Nick Coffield, James Harmes and Lachlan Bramble will all face Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday after being locked in on Tuesday afternoon. Ryley Sanders has been set for a round one debut all summer and will also face the Demons after an impressive pre-season at the Whitten Oval. All-Australian pair Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel have been permanent fixtures for a long time, but are under pressure to secure a spot against the Demons. Bailey Dale is dealing with hamstring tightness and may run out of time to prove his fitness. Buku Khamis has returned down back and is fighting for a position, along with Taylor Duryea, while Lachie McNeil has performed well over the summer and will be considered this weekend. Sam Darcy might have to start the year in the VFL but he is breathing down Rory Lobb's neck and could go past him in the coming weeks and months. – Josh Gabelich