Tom De Koning, Lachie Schultz and Riley Thilthorpe. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in round 17?

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 R17 ins and outs. Check it out.

Key forward Riley Thilthorpe is set to return bigger and stronger at AFL level after spending his rehab from a knee injury in the gym. The 21-year-old played managed minutes in the SANFL but still booted three goals in his first competitive hitout of the season. The Crows have the option to recall wingman Chayce Jones after he was a late withdrawal against GWS with a back complaint. Substitute Zac Taylor could also be elevated after showing promise in the final quarter against the Giants. Experienced defender Brodie Smith had a game-high 26 disposals and 10 rebound 50s in the SANFL, while Lachlan Gollant booted four goals. – Nathan Schmook

Last week's sub: Zac Taylor (replaced Brayden Cook)


Four straight wins should mean a fairly settled Lions team to face Adelaide on Sunday. Defender Jack Payne missed the win against Melbourne last Friday night with a sore foot and would return at the expense of Darragh Joyce if he - as expected – gets through training this week. The VFL team continues to thrive, with James Tunstill, Jarryd Lyons, Harry Sharp and Shadeau Brain all keeping the pressure on the senior team should any injuries pop up. – Michael Whiting

Last week's sub: Jaspa Fletcher (replaced Logan Morris)

Jack Payne in action during Brisbane's clash with Hawthorn in round 11, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

The Blues could have some handy inclusions for Saturday night's clash against the Giants, with Tom De Koning (soreness) and Matt Cottrell (foot) both set to face fitness tests later this week to determine whether they return. Matt Kennedy (knee) is also a chance to feature, despite concerns over the severity of his injury. George Hewett could be an option to replace him, should he not get up, having started as the substitute last weekend. Jack Carroll (28 disposals, seven clearances, seven tackles) and mid-season recruit Cooper Lord (26 disposals, nine tackles, one goal) are other options after impressing at reserves level. However, Corey Durdin (shoulder) is set to be sidelined for a fortnight. – Riley Beveridge

Last week's sub: George Hewett (replaced Adam Cerra)

Tom De Koning celebrates a goal during Carlton's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round six, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Just when Collingwood got some reinforcements, John Noble (concussion) and Beau McCreery (calf) are both out, but Lachie Schultz should return after missing the trip to Queensland due to illness. Charlie Dean was the travelling emergency and could be considered after being squeezed out of the 23. Fin Macrae responded to being dropped with 26 touches, seven tackles and a goal in the wet against Essendon in the VFL on Saturday, where Jack Bytel collected 31 disposals. Reef McInnes and Ash Johnson both kicked two goals. – Josh Gabelich

Last week's sub: Joe Richards (replaced Beau McCreery)

Lachie Schultz celebrates a goal for Collingwood against North Melbourne in R14, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers should welcome back Jake Kelly, who was withdrawn from their squad last week due to illness. Whether they go in as tall as last week is likely to come under consideration, while Ben Hobbs and Nate Caddy were held over last week and could earn recalls. Elijah Tsatas (38 disposals and 11 clearances) and Dylan Shiel (33 and six) put their hands up at VFL level, and Will Setterfield (26) was also solid. Archie Roberts (24 and a goal) continues to push for an AFL debut. – Dejan Kalinic

Last week's sub: Nik Cox (replaced Harry Jones)


Key defender Brennan Cox has completed two WAFL games on managed minutes and will return from a long-term hamstring injury to boost the backline as long as he gets through main training on Wednesday. Experienced forward Michael Walters is also pushing to be available after missing two matches with a hamstring injury. The Dockers have been rotating an extra midfielder forward in his absence and getting good results, complicating selection this week. Changes will be limited after a stirring win against Sydney, but an injury cloud over defender Brandon Walker means versatile substitute James Aish could be elevated if needed. – Nathan Schmook    

Last week's sub: James Aish (replaced Hugh Davies)

Brennan Cox warms up ahead of the match between Fremantle and Port Adelaide at Optus Stadium in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Forward Ollie Henry is available to face the Hawks after missing last week's big win over Essendon but it's not immediately clear who comes out of the team to accommodate his return. Debutant Lawson Humphries would be unlucky to miss after compiling 15 touches, three tackles and three clearances on debut, while Mitch Knevitt also played his role with 13 touches, five tackles and a goal. Shaun Mannagh dominated in the VFL with 21 disposals, 10 tackles, five clearances and six goals but spots in the Geelong forward line are at a premium. Toby Conway's foot injury means the Cats could persist with Sam De Koning in the ruck against the Hawks, with Rhys Stanley relatively quiet in the VFL. - Michael Rogers

Last week's sub: Mark O'Connor (replaced Mitch Duncan)


The Suns will be without skipper Jarrod Witts (fractured vertebrae) as they try to win their first game away from home against North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday. Ned Moyle is in cracking form and looms as an obvious ruck replacement. Aside from that, it's hard to see a lot of changes for the Suns. Jake Rogers would suit the fast surface and could be recalled to a half-forward line that has chopped and changed in recent weeks, while Brayden Fiorini has done well in the VFL. Jed Walter has spent two weeks at the lower level, and although not bashing the door down for an inclusion, would likely be considered to return shortly. – Michael Whiting

Last week's sub: Bailey Humphrey (replaced David Swallow)


The Giants will lose Josh Kelly (calf) for much of the next month, ensuring at least one enforced change for this Saturday night's crucial clash against the high-flying Blues. James Peatling (35 disposals, seven clearances, one goal) and Xavier O'Halloran (27 disposals, 14 tackles) were among the best at VFL level from a midfield perspective and could be options to replace him. Nick Haynes (hamstring) is a chance to return, though Sam Taylor (testicle) is likely to miss another month. Aaron Cadman (16 disposals, nine marks, five goals) is building nicely in the VFL, while a host of other youngsters have also impressed. Darcy Jones (16 disposals, two goals) and Conor Stone (21 disposals, eight marks) are on the cusp of recalls, while James Leake (23 disposals, seven marks) and Phoenix Gothard (19 disposals, two goals) are pushing for AFL debuts. – Riley Beveridge

Last week's sub: Toby McMullin (replaced Max Gruzewski)


Mitch Lewis kicked two goals in his second game back at VFL level to put his hand up for an AFL return, after playing a full game for Box Hill. Finn Maginness was the carryover emergency, while Josh Ward (29 disposals, nine tackles and eight clearances) and Jai Serong (22 disposals and six marks) both fired after being included in the 26. If James Sicily doesn't prove his fitness, Serong will be considered, along with SSP signing Ethan Phillips. Henry Hustwaite (34 touches and 12 tackles) has struggled for senior opportunities in 2024 but starred against Port Melbourne. Jasper Scaife kicked two more goals in his second appearance since being signed in the AFL Mid-Season Rookie Draft. Luke Breust was managed for the trip west. – Josh Gabelich

Last week's sub: Harry Morrison (replaced Calsher Dear)


Small defenders Jake Bowey (soreness) and Christian Salem (knee) both missed the clash against the Lions but the Demons are hopeful the duo will be available to face West Coast. There's question marks over the fitness of key forward Harrison Petty after he was substituted out of Friday night's game with hamstring awareness. He will face a fitness test ahead of Sunday's game, but if he doesn't get up, the Demons could call upon their third debutant in as many weeks with Matthew Jefferson edging ever closer to earning a debut. The 20-year-old was the emergency for the weekend's game and has kicked 15 goals in his past six VFL outings. Young midfielder Bailey Laurie (23 disposals, 10 tackles) and recruit Shane McAdam (three goals) could also be in line for a recall following solid VFL form. In a huge boost, the Demons have confirmed veteran forward Jake Melksham will make his long-awaited return to play this weekend after recovering from the devastating ACL rupture he suffered late last season. – Alison O'Connor

Last week's sub: Kynan Brown (replaced Harrison Petty)


The Kangas will surely recall Colby McKercher (26 disposals, two goals) from a stint in the VFL after he recovered from a foot injury. He could be an option to potentially replace Zac Fisher (foot), who will face a fitness test ahead of Saturday's clash with the Suns after being substituted last weekend. Griffin Logue (knee) is verging on a senior comeback after two VFL appearances. Charlie Lazzaro (25 disposals, 11 clearances, 11 tackles) and Hugh Greenwood (25 disposals, 12 clearances, 13 tackles) will provide more experienced midfield options after dominating at reserves level, but George Wardlaw (concussion) faces another week in the AFL's protocols. – Riley Beveridge

Last week's sub: Dylan Stephens (replaced Zac Fisher)


There's a few moving parts for Ken Hinkley and his match committee ahead of hosting the Western Bulldogs on Saturday. Willie Rioli (illness) should come back into the team to bolster the forward line, while Jase Burgoyne (hamstring) will be tested this week to see if he is available. The main question comes in the key defensive posts though with Esava Ratugolea (hamstring) to miss a second successive match. With the Bulldogs sporting three genuine tall forwards, Port has Aliir Aliir and Brandon Zerk-Thatcher ready to go – do they need a third? The only fit key defenders are veteran Tom Clurey and Tom McCallum. If Port roll the dice and go smaller, Lachie Jones will again have to play on a taller opponent. – Michael Whiting

Last week's sub: Will Lorenz (replaced Todd Marshall)

Willie Rioli celebrates a goal during Port Adelaide's clash against Geelong in round nine, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Dustin Martin was the only AFL injury to come out of the loss to Carlton, and is a test, but is highly unlikely to be put on a plane to Perth given his sore back. It was a strong win in the VFL, with Steely Green booting five and Campbell Gray with four goals, but the latter is now out for two months with a serious hamstring injury. Thomson Dow responded to his omission with 26 disposals and eight clearances. – Sarah Black

Last week's sub: Sam Banks (replaced Dustin Martin)


Mattaes Phillipou looks ready for a return to AFL level after producing his strongest performance yet for Sandringham, amassing 31 touches, nine tackles, nine clearances and two goals against Geelong. Tim Membrey was prolific with 20 disposals and a goal at GMHBA Stadium, while Zak Jones responded to being dropped with 28 touches. Dougal Howard is set to be available against Sydney after missing the past month with a hamstring strain. – Josh Gabelich

Last week's sub: Cooper Sharman (replaced Tom Campbell)


Robbie Fox's pace and run could make him the best replacement for veteran defender Harry Cunningham, who will miss a fortnight due to a hamstring injury. Matt Roberts and Caleb Mitchell continue to get plenty of the footy at VFL level but with Callum Mills and Luke Parker set to return next week, time is running out for them to force their way back into the senior side. Caiden Cleary had a run in the VFL last Sunday to get some minutes under his belt, so he could be handed the sub vest again against the Saints. - Martin Smith

Last week's sub: Caiden Cleary (replaced Harry Cunningham)

Matt Roberts looks on ahead of the R9 match between Sydney and Fremantle at Optus Stadium on May 10, 2024. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Eagles could lose ruckman Matt Flynn to an ankle injury, potentially opening room for young tall Jack Williams to come in as a back-up ruck and tall forward. Coach Adam Simpson said it was hard to judge the four talls in attack with only 33 inside 50s, but it will be interesting to see if the Eagles persist with the structure this week with Jake Waterman (leg) in some doubt. Harry Edwards is the likely replacement if a thumb injury prevents Jeremy McGovern from facing Melbourne. An ugly loss at home to Hawthorn could also prompt unforced changes, with midfielder Zane Trew knocking down the door after 33 disposals and six inside 50s in the WAFL. Other options include Jai Culley (19 and five) and Andrew Gaff (31 and a goal) and potential debutant Clay Hall (23 and six inside 50s). – Nathan Schmook  

Last week's sub: Ryan Maric (replaced Matt Flynn)


Luke Beveridge went in with all four tall forwards and it worked, with Rory Lobb earning coaches votes for his performance behind the ball. Taylor Duryea will need to prove his fitness later in the week ahead of the trip to South Australia, opening the door for off-season signing Nick Coffield to come back in after returning from a shoulder reconstruction in the VFL. Caleb Daniel kicked two goals from 22 touches after being dropped, while James Harmes collected 23 disposals and nine tackles after recovering from a hamstring strain. Former first-round pick Jedd Busslinger continued his strong form at Footscray with 24 disposals and six marks as he continues to hunt a debut. – Josh Gabelich

Last week's sub: Oskar Baker (replaced Taylor Duryea)

Nick Coffield marks the ball during a Western Bulldogs training session on May 9, 2024. Picture: Getty Images