Patrick Dangerfield, Sam Walsh and Sean Darcy. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in round five?

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 R5 ins and outs. Check it out.

Three of the Crows' five changes last week were unforced and more could be on the way this week after a 0-4 start. Midfielder/forward Luke Pedlar, key defender James Borlase and versatile forward Lachie Gollant were emergencies last week, but the Crows could also look to the impressive form in their most recent SANFL game of Billy Dowling (34 disposals and nine inside 50s), who is yet to debut, to spice up their line-up with a mix of inside and outside play. Draftee Dan Curtin (18 and 10 marks) is physically ready and could add some more size and intercepting smarts in the back half against a dangerous Carlton forward line. Fellow draftees Oscar Ryan and Charlie Edwards are also available, but the Crows might opt for more time in the SANFL before setting the pair up to debut. – Nathan Schmook 

R4 sub: Sam Berry (replaced Chris Burgess)

Luke Pedlar looks on after the R1 match between Adelaide and Gold Coast at People First Stadium on March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

After winning its first game of the season against North Melbourne, it's unlikely Chris Fagan and his match committee will tinker too much ahead of facing Melbourne at the MCG on Friday. Deven Robertson and Jarryd Lyons would be on standby if either Lachie Neale or Zac Bailey have any unexpected last-minute problems with ankle niggles, while Shadeau Brain, Jimmy Madden and Jaxon Prior continue to be around the mark as half-back options. - Michael Whiting

R4 sub: James Tunstill (replaced Lachie Neale)

Deven Robertson and Chris Fagan after Brisbane's win over Carlton in the 2023 preliminary final. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues should regain superstar Sam Walsh (back), provided he gets through his final blocks of training this week. His return could prove timely, with Lachie Fogarty (wrist) both injured and serving a one-match suspension and with Elijah Hollands (adductor) also a chance to miss. If he fails a late fitness test, it could provide either Jaxon Binns or Ashton Moir with the chance to make their AFL debuts. Caleb Marchbank (back) should progress through the AFL's concussion protocols, but developed soreness during his week off. If he misses out, it could ensure Brodie Kemp retains his spot. - Riley Beveridge

R4 sub: Matt Owies (replaced Elijah Hollands)

Sam Walsh handballs during Carlton's clash against West Coast in round 19, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Essendon midfield has been a revolving door and that is set to continue with Archie Perkins (hamstring) and Will Setterfield (knee) sidelined and Sam Durham returning from concussion. Setterfield re-injuring his knee could see Elijah Tsatas return. The Bombers are coming off a disappointing 69-point loss to Port Adelaide and could make other changes. Jye Menzie has been quiet to start the season and has just one goal in four games, which could open the door for Nick Hind to be elevated from the sub to the 22. With no VFL on the weekend, others didn't get a competitive chance to stake their claim, but Lewis Hayes – pick No.25 in the 2022 AFL Draft – could be considered given the Bombers will need to combat the Western Bulldogs' tall forward line. Dylan Shiel is set to return from his oblique strain this week, but that will be through the VFL. – Dejan Kalinic

R4 sub: Nick Hind (replaced Jye Menzie)

Lewis Hayes in action during Essendon's match simulation against St Kilda on February 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Ruckman Sean Darcy could be declared ready to return from a knee injury as soon as this week and is in Adelaide in preparation for the Dockers' clash against Port Adelaide. His return would prompt changes in the key positions and allow Luke Jackson to move forward, but the Dockers also have issues at ground level in their front half with Michael Frederick (hamstring) sidelined and Sam Switkowski (calf) in doubt. Midfielder Neil Erasmus travelled early with the team as an emergency for Gather Round and is the most likely inclusion, while midfielder/forward Cooper Simpson could be flown in once Switkowski's fitness is clearer after Wednesday's main training. Jaeger O'Meara has been an impactful sub for the past three weeks and could be called on to start as part of the changes. – Nathan Schmook 

R4 sub: Jaeger O'Meara (replaced Matthew Johnson)

Sean Darcy in action during match simulation between Fremantle and West Coast at Mineral Resources Park on February 24, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Patrick Dangerfield is expected to return from a minor hamstring complaint for Sunday's clash with North Melbourne, having missed two games since being subbed off against Adelaide in round two. Jake Kolodjashnij (quad) and Zach Tuohy (ankle) picked up niggles against the Dogs and will be tested. It wouldn't surprise if the Cats took a no-risk approach with the experienced pair. Gary Rohan is set to play at some level this weekend after recovering from a back issue. Youngsters Mitch Knevitt and Oisin Mullin are the likely next cabs off the rank should either Kolodjashnij or Tuohy not come up, while first-year key defender Connor O'Sullivan has been solid in limited VFL opportunities so far.  - Michael Rogers

R4 sub: Mark O'Connor (replaced Jhye Clark)

Patrick Dangerfield in action during Geelong's clash against Adelaide in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Don't expect anywhere near the upheaval this week as there was with last week's seven changes following a strong showing against Greater Western Sydney. Jake Rogers is the one first round draft pick from 2023 yet to debut, but is knocking on the door, while Connor Budarick, Brandon Ellis, Rory Atkins and Alex Sexton are on standby should any injuries pop up between now and facing Hawthorn on Saturday night. - Michael Whiting

R4 sub: David Swallow (replaced Bailey Humphrey)

Jake Rogers in action at Gold Coast training on November 29, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The Giants could regain experienced midfielder Callan Ward (shoulder) after he resumed full contact training this week. He'll need to get through every session and pass a fitness test before he's declared available. It could be the only change for an unbeaten side that's flying going into Saturday's clash against the Saints. In more good news, Braydon Preuss (back) made his return in a VFL practice match last weekend. - Riley Beveridge

R4 sub: James Peatling (replaced Harvey Thomas)

Callan Ward leaves the ground during GWS's match against Collingwood in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Mitch Lewis and Luke Breust both missed Gather Round and have also been ruled out of this weekend’s trip to Queensland to play Gold Coast. Lewis suffered a hamstring injury on Easter Monday, while Breust has been carrying a groin injury this season. Jack Gunston wasn’t included in the 26 on the weekend and didn’t play at all with the VFL bye. Lloyd Meek has taken the ruck spot off Ned Reeves and is performing well. Harry Morrison and Jai Serong were also included in the squad against Collingwood. - Josh Gabelich

R4 sub: Henry Hustwaite (replaced Sam Butler)

Luke Breust kicks the ball during Hawthorn's clash against Geelong in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

With Kysaiah Pickett's one-match suspension upheld by the Tribunal on Tuesday night, the Demons need to make at least one change to the side that toppled Adelaide during Gather Round. Pickett's absence opens the door for Bailey Laurie to return to the side for his second game of the season, or Taj Woewodin could elevate himself into the 22 after starting as the sub for the past two weeks. Winger Lachie Hunter has overcome the calf injury that hampered much of his summer, returning to play in the VFL match simulation against Carlton on the weekend, but he is likely to need more time at the lower level before breaking back into the side. - Alison O'Connor

R4 sub: Taj Woewodin (replaced Ben Brown)


The Kangaroos will regain Curtis Taylor (back) this weekend, though he could return through the VFL rather than in the senior side's clash against the Cats. Pre-season recruit Tyler Sellers was among the emergencies last week after making an impressive start to the campaign and could be in line for an AFL debut to freshen up the side's attack. Griffin Logue (knee) is still around two months away from a return. - Riley Beveridge

R4 sub: Liam Shiels (replaced Dylan Stephens)

Curtis Taylor celebrates a goal during round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

You'd think fresh off a 69-point thumping of Essendon, selection would be easy for Ken Hinkley this week – not so. Port's coach has some headaches ahead of hosting Fremantle on Saturday night with two regulars back in the frame. Brownlow medallist Ollie Wines has overcome a hamstring injury that kept him out of the win over the Bombers, while rugged half-forward Sam Powell-Pepper has served a four-game suspension and is available again. Josh Sinn had also played well in the SANFL prior to Gather Round. - Michael Whiting

R4 sub: Jase Burgoyne (replaced Travis Boak)

Sam Powell-Pepper looks on after Port Adelaide's clash against Carlton in round 18, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Liam Baker will return from suspension, and if Thomson Dow isn't right after a minor ankle injury, it's a near-perfect swap. Last week's debutant Kane McAuliffe is also under an injury cloud with his own ankle concern, but if he's right to go, should play given his lively few minutes on the park. Dylan Grimes (wrist) is also a chance to feature, but with a trip to Perth and a young backline just starting to find their rhythm, is it the right game to return? Coach Adem Yze said post-match Jacob Koschitzke will "hold his spot", but the forward line remains a work in progress given the absence of Noah Balta and Tom Lynch. Samson Ryan and Sam Naismith can provide additional tall options, but would have to squeeze out a small, with Rhyan Mansell arguably the quietest of that group. The VFL team had a competition-wide bye due to the state representative game. – Sarah Black

R4 sub: Kane McAuliffe (replaced Thomson Dow)

Dylan Grimes in action during the R18 match between Richmond and West Coast at Optus Stadium on July 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Ross Lyon will regain Marcus Windhager this weekend after he missed Gather Round due to suspension. The coach suggested back-up ruckman Tom Campbell will need to provide Rowan Marshall with some coverage at stages, but it might not be just yet. Draftees Hugo Garcia and Lance Collard were both included in the 26-man squad against Richmond. Key defender Dougal Howard could be available for selection for the first time after straining his hamstring during the AAMI Community Series. - Josh Gabelich

R4 sub: Angus Hastie (replaced Zak Jones)

Marcus Windhager during St Kilda's game against Essendon in R3, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Forward Ryan Maric is a chance to be available this week after being taken to hospital as a precaution for suspected rib and lung damage. If he is not, small forward Tyler Brockman is the logical replacement as he comes out of concussion protocols. First-year midfielder Clay Hall (22 disposals in the WAFL) continues to build for his AFL debut, while veteran wingman Andrew Gaff (25 and five marks) has attacked his time in the state league impressively. Either could replace Luke Edwards (hamstring) if needed. Midfielder Zane Trew (25 and a goal) and defender Alex Witherden (20 and seven marks) are other options this week. Flag hero Dom Sheed and young onballer Jai Culley continue their returns from injury in the WAFL, while Liam Ryan will make his comeback at the state league level. – Nathan Schmook

R4 sub: Loch Rawlinson (replaced Luke Edwards)

Andrew Gaff handballs during the match between West Coast and Fremantle at Optus Stadium in round 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

With All-Australian pair Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel being subbed in and out of Saturday night’s loss to Geelong, Luke Beveridge might consider James Harmes after a strong last start in the VFL. Rory Lobb will need to bide his time at Footscray with Sam Darcy winning the round four Rising Star nomination after a strong showing in Adelaide. James O’Donnell and Caleb Poulter were both named in the squad, with the former Collingwood wingman omitted due to the return of Ed Richards- Josh Gabelich

R4 sub: Jack Macrae (replaced Caleb Daniel)

James Harmes in action during the VFL R2 match between Footscray and Casey Demons at Casey Fields on March 30, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos