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In the mix: Who's a chance for round 21?

Chad Wingard could return for the Power this week - AFL,In the Mix
Chad Wingard could return for the Power this week

After thrashing Port Adelaide by 84 points at Adelaide Oval on Sunday night, the ladder-leading Crows will keep changes to a minimum for Saturday night's clash with Essendon at Etihad Stadium. It would also be hard to do that with the Crows' SANFL team having the bye last weekend, denying fringe players the chance to impress. Emergencies Wayne Milera and Paul Seedsman could come into the side if midfielder David Mackay is ruled out with a corked quad. Swingman Andy Otten was unlucky to lose his spot in the side after impressive form at both ends of the ground this year, and would likely earn a recall if key defender Daniel Talia (groin) is ruled out. - Lee Gaskin 

Shouldn't see too many changes for Saturday's QClash against the Gold Coast, with first-year pair Cedric Cox (ankle) and Alex Witherden (hamstring) the only players in doubt from last weekend's loss to the Bulldogs. The Lions' NEAFL team has won 10 matches in succession, so there's plenty of in-form options to choose from, with Liam Dawson, Claye Beams and Ryan Harwood all good half-back options. - Michael Whiting

The Lions could consider Claye Beams for a return this week against the Suns. Picture: AFL Photos

Kristian Jaksch did his chances of making his first senior appearance this season no harm with a second consecutive four-goal haul for the Northern Blues against Footscray last Saturday. Another former Giant, Rhys Palmer, continued his fine VFL form by collecting 29 disposals and running defender Ciaran Byrne (27) was also impressive. – Howard Kotton

A week after selecting an unchanged side for the first time in more than 14 months, the Magpies could be forced to make wholesale changes for their clash with fifth-placed Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on Sunday. The definite outs are suspended ruckman Brodie Grundy and the injured Levi Greenwood (knee), while Daniel Wells (thigh) appears likely to be sidelined and Tyson Goldsack (head) could also miss. Grundy's absence opens the door for the Mason Cox to take on Paddy Ryder. Cox's VFL form has been solid – in his past four games he has averaged 18 possessions, 6.5 marks, 33 hitouts and 1.5 goals. Exciting medium-sized forward Kayle Kirby – the 18-year-old who is leading the VFL goalkicking with 38.12 in 14 games – strengthened his case for an AFL debut by bagging 5.1 in a win over Werribee at Etihad Stadium on Saturday. It was the eighth time Kirby had kicked at least three majors. Also in line for promotion are midfielders James Aish (23 possessions, seven clearances and 13 tackles) and Tim Broomhead (21 touches, seven tackles and a goal), youngster Callum Brown (24 touches, seven clearances, six tackles and a goal) and fellow father-son prospect Josh Daicos (26 touches and a goal). - Ben Collins

Is it time for the Magpies to hand Josh Daicos an AFL debut? Picture: AFL Photos

Zach Merrett has been offered a one-week suspension for his stomach punch to Lachie Plowman, so a replacement for him is likely to be required with a two-game sanction looming if the Bombers challenge and fail. Joe Daniher is free to play after being fined for his late contact against Blaine Boekhorst, but they'll need to bring someone in for Orazio Fantasia, who suffered a nasty-looking right hamstring injury against Carlton. James Kelly and Andrew McGrath were both rested on the weekend and should be available for Saturday night's clash with Adelaide, while Jayden Laverde was omitted from the senior side but will be fresh given the VFL team's bye. Last week, Brent Stanton, Craig Bird and Kobe Mutch were among those who impressed. - Jennifer Phelan

Raw young ruckman Sean Darcy was rested for the win over Gold Coast and it remains to be seen if he will return to face Sydney, with coach Ross Lyon hinting the Dockers could give the 19-year-old another week off. Darcy was annoyed to be left out last round, though, and is sure to be pushing to face the Swans. The Dockers will have to replace Brady Grey (hamstring) which could open the door for Josh Deluca to play his third AFL game. Tommy Sheridan, Ryan Nyhuis, Matt Taberner and Garrick Ibbotson could all be around the mark in match committee discussions but there are unlikely to be many unforced changes to a winning side. - Travis King 

It's carnage at the Cattery, and the selection committee will have its work cut out for it this week. Joel Selwood is out for the foreseeable future after ankle surgery the Cats hope will sideline him for just the remaining home-and-away games. Tom Hawkins faces two weeks out after falling foul of the match review panel again. His jumper punch to Dane Rampe, plus his bad record, has cost him three games reduced to two if the Cats accept. Mitch Duncan is also in the bad books and has been offered a one-match ban for striking Tom Papley, with an additional week threatening if they take the case to the tribunal and lose. It isn't all completely bad - Patrick Dangerfield will return after missing the loss to the Sydney Swans with suspension, Daniel Menzel and Steven Motlop should be available, Rhys Stanley will be in the mix and Jamaine Jones and Jack Henry were best on ground in the VFL on the weekend, which caps off a promising month for the untried rookie forwards and leaves them in line to debut. - Jennifer Phelan

Steven Motlop is set to add some much-needed dash to the Cats' line-up. Picture: AFL Photos

With a new coach to lead their team against the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday, the Suns will also bring in a couple of hard-nut midfielders. Michael Rischitelli was rested from the trip west to play Fremantle, while David Swallow was a late withdrawal with a tight groin, but both will play against the Lions. - Michael Whiting

The Giants will need to make at least two changes for Friday night's massive clash with the Western Bulldogs at Etihad Stadium. Dawson Simpson will be selected to replace the suspended Shane Mumford, and will come into the side in terrific form, having had 21 possessions and 10 tackles to go with 70 hit-outs in the NEAFL last week. Mumford's loss will be offset by the return of club champion Toby Greene, who has served his two-week ban, while Jonathan Patton could also add firepower to the GWS forward line. Patton was a late withdrawal from last week's win over Melbourne with hamstring tightness and could be selected if he can train during the week. After such an outstanding win over the Demons it's unlikely coach Leon Cameron will be making too many other changes, but Daniel Lloyd and Tendai Mzungu would come under serious consideration if he does, after they combined for 75 touches and 16 tackles in the reserves' narrow loss to the Canberra Demons last week. - Adam Curley

The Hawks' finals hopes are as good as over, so we may see some bolder selections down the stretch. The likes of Kieran Lovell, Harry Morrison, who is yet to make his debut, Kade Stewart and Dallas Willsmore could all get a senior look before the year is out. Lovell's second game back from shoulder surgery saw him rack up 28 touches and eight inside 50s for Box Hill. Retirement-bound Luke Hodge is available after suspension and triple premiership forward Paul Puopolo (adductor) should play his first match since round 14 against the Kangaroos. Jaeger O'Meara (knee) will make his latest return via the VFL Hawks on Saturday, while Ty Vickery could again go close to senior selection. Ruckman Marc Pittonet's strong state league form continues, but Ben McEvoy is keeping him out. - Marc McGowan

Luke Hodge will return for the first of his final three games. Picture: AFL Photos

Melbourne faces a must-win clash against St Kilda at the MCG on Sunday with the Demons hopeful their returning players can find their best form after long layoffs. With Christian Salem (ankle) a likely starter for the game against the Saints, Melbourne is not expected to make many changes to the team that lost to Greater Western Sydney on Saturday. Young forward Mitch Hannan, who was rested for the game against GWS, is a strong chance to return as the Demons look for ways to boost their scoring power. Josh Wagner, the carryover emergency for the Giants' game, Jay Kennedy-Harris (39 disposals), Ben Kennedy (33) and Sam Weideman (one goal) are also in contention. Angus Brayshaw had 34 touches in his best game since returning from concussion and might be considered if the Demons feel that he is ready, while Billy Stretch (22 disposals and nine tackles) was named as Casey's best player. - Ben Guthrie

There are some big decisions on the injury front to be made for the Roos this week. Late withdrawal Jy Simpkin (ankle) should be back to face Hawthorn, but will another small forward, Kayne Turner (knee), come straight into the senior side after seven matches out? The ruck continues to be a talking point at Arden St, with Todd Goldstein and Braydon Preuss playing last Saturday night in Majak Daw's (foot) absence, and Daw will miss again this week. Goldstein outplayed Preuss at the weekend and the selection of one or both of the ruckman could depend on Ben Brown's recovery from concussion, or even Nick Larkey's playing status. Key forwards Jarrad Waite and Mason Wood are likely to miss at least another week with respective calf injuries. Jed Anderson, Lachie Hansen and 2015 draftee Ben McKay, playing in defence, were North's best players in the VFL. - Marc McGowan 

The Power hope to regain midfielder Chad Wingard (ankle) for Sunday's clash with Collingwood at Adelaide Oval. There could be a couple of other changes in the wake of last weekend's embarrassing 84-point loss to Adelaide. Midfielder Brendon Ah Chee pressed his claims for a recall with 22 possessions in Port Adelaide's 32-point win over South Adelaide in the SANFL. Defenders Logan Austin (22 disposals) and Dan Houston (16), small forward Jake Neade (16) and midfielder Joe Atley (14) will also be in consideration. Veteran Matt White was the emergency and didn't play in the SANFL. - Lee Gaskin 

Jack Riewoldt's return from an eye injury will strengthen an already firing forward line, so the big question facing the Tigers is who to drop? A complete 29-point win against Hawthorn will make the match committee's decision difficult ahead of Saturday's blockbuster against Geelong, and one of the club's small forwards might be due for a rest. The VFL team had a bye, but half-back Jayden Short, half-forward Ben Lennon and small forward Tyson Stengle have produced good recent form. Midfielder Jacob Townsend was brought into the emergencies late last week in a sign he is in the coaches' thinking, but he did not play. Young onballer Jack Graham has also been close to making his debut, but this might not be the week to release the strong-bodied draftee. – Nathan Schmook 

The Tigers will welcome Jack Riewoldt's beaming face back to the field. Picture: AFL Photos

Champion forward Nick Riewoldt was concussed against West Cast, but the Saints are optimistic the former skipper will be right. If he isn't declared fit, Rowan Marshall and Josh Battle are potential replacements. A smaller option could be Jack Lonie, who racked up 37 disposals, 11 tackles and two goals in the VFL last Saturday, while rookie Nick O'Kearney also looked good. Defender Sam Gilbert probably needs another week to recover from a broken right hand. – Dinny Navaratnam

Coming off an emphatic performance against Geelong last week, the Swans could be strengthened even further if captain Josh Kennedy can prove his fitness for Saturday afternoon's clash with Fremantle at the SCG. The skipper missed the win over the Cats with a tight hamstring, but ran at training last week, and could be right to face the Dockers. Ruckman Sam Naismith also missed the trip to Geelong after copping a heavy knock to his side against Hawthorn in round 19, and is another who will look to train on Tuesday to put his name up this week. With the senior team flying, coach John Longmire won't be making any unforced changes, but James Rose (six goals), Daniel Robinson (30 possessions and nine tackles) and Jordan Dawson (24 touches and five tackles) were good in the NEAFL last week, while Harry Cunningham played his first game since suffering a foot injury against St Kilda in round nine. The speedster had 25 disposals in a rare loss for the Swans' reserves against the Brisbane Lions and could get a senior call up before the finals once his match fitness returns. - Adam Curley 

Eagles coach Adam Simpson has already flagged the return of Brownlow medallist Matt Priddis after he was controversially made the travelling emergency for Sunday's loss to St Kilda and watched from the coach's box as his teammates were smashed in contested ball in the final term. Drew Petrie lowered his colours in the ruck which will likely see the return of Nathan Vardy (12 disposals, 17 hit-outs, two goals) who spent plenty of time forward in East Perth's belting of rivals West Perth. Fraser McInnes (18 disposals, 19 hit-outs, two goals) could be another option. Key defender Tom Barrass will be pushing to play after missing the Saints clash due to a tight groin, while Sharrod Wellingham (23 disposals, two goals) might be recalled after impressing through midfield for the Royals. Wellingham hasn't played AFL since round 16. Lewis Jetta might also be in the frame after missing the past two matches with a calf strain. - Travis King

Will the Eagles call on former Magpie Sharrod Wellingham? Picture: AFL Photos

While the loss of vice-captain Easton Wood to a serious hamstring injury is a massive blow to the premiers, they should regain several important players for Friday night's huge clash with Greater Western Sydney at Etihad Stadium. Jason Johannisen, a late withdrawal from the weekend's win over the Brisbane Lions, should overcome a hamstring complaint, while dynamic forward Jake Stringer should return after three weeks on the sidelines with the same injury. Goalsneak Tory Dickson will need to pass a fitness test of a calf concern that saw him miss last week. Tough midfielder Mitch Honeychurch is expected to be available after a facial infection saw him miss the past two weeks. It will be interesting to see whether the Dogs rest Robert Murphy after consecutive six-day breaks, with the skipper battling knee soreness. Retiring defender Matthew Boyd won't return to the side this week as he has an Achilles issue. Premiership defender Fletcher Roberts is a chance for a reprieve after being dropped twice this season. With so many stars on the verge of returning, Clay Smith, Lukas Webb and Travis Cloke should be feeling a little nervous after quiet games against the Lions. - Ryan Davidson