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In the mix: round three

Mitch Wallis is likely to return for the Bulldogs against Essendon - AFL,Adelaide Crows,Brisbane Lions,Carlton Blues,Collingwood Magpies,Essendon Bombers,Fremantle Dockers,Geelong Cats,Gold Coast Suns,GWS Giants,Hawthorn Hawks,Melbourne Demons,North Melbourne Kangaroos,Port Adelaide Power,Richmond Tigers,St Kilda Saints,Sydney Swans,West Coast Eagles,Western Bulldogs,In the Mix
Mitch Wallis is likely to return for the Bulldogs against Essendon


Get them in: Forward Tom Lynch is a chance of returning from illness for his first game of the season, while veteran Richard Douglas returns from suspension. Midfielder Curtly Hampton (adductor) has been cleared to play. Hard to see anyone from the Crows' 95-point SANFL thumping at the hands of Port Adelaide pressing their claims.

Under the pump: It'd be a tough call, but Lynch's inclusion could squeeze young gun Darcy Fogarty out of the side for forward line balance.

Medical room: Reigning club champion Matt Crouch is out for three weeks, while Rory Sloane (foot strain), Lynch (illness) and David Mackay (concussion) will be assessed. Hampton and Riley Knight (foot) could return.

Verdict: The Crows will keep changes to a minimum. Lynch and Douglas, in for Matt Crouch and an unlucky Fogarty. Other changes will depend on Sloane and Mackay. - Lee Gaskin


Get them in: After copping a one-week suspension in the opening round, Mitch Robinson is available to return. Tom Cutler is still knocking on the door after another strong showing in a NEAFL practice match at the weekend.

Under the pump: Josh Walker was quiet against the Demons and needs to produce more, however against a tall Power team, will likely keep his spot. Sam Mayes has also struggled in the first fortnight.

Medical room: Daniel Rich has been listed as a week-to-week proposition, but the ankle ligament problems will keep him away a bit longer yet.

Verdict: Robinson is known as a contested ball winner – the area coach Chris Fagan thought cost the Lions last week – and should come straight back in. Rohan Bewick was a strong contributor last week and should retain his spot, so with no injuries, Mayes might be the man under most pressure. - Michael Whiting


Get them in: With the Blues crying out for another tall forward, Harry McKay showed encouraging signs by taking a few big marks in a VFL practice match last Saturday. He finished with 14 disposals, five marks and two goals. Jack Silvagni responded well to his axing with 11 disposals and three goals.

Under the pump: Coach Brendon Bolton concedes Jacob Weitering is down on confidence after disappointing performances in the opening two games. He needs to be settled in one spot and rediscover his mojo.

Medical room: Defender Ciaran Byrne's shocking run with injury continued last Saturday when he injured a quad. The Blues hope to regain Matthew Kreuzer and Matthew Kennedy after they missed against the Suns.

Verdict: If Kreuzer and Kennedy are fit, they will return and McKay has put himself in contention for elevation. - Howard Kotton

Could a strong VFL practice match showing propel Harry McKay into the seniors? Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: The Pies will make at least two enforced changes, with Mason Cox completing his one-game suspension and fellow key forward Ben Reid (a late withdrawal against the Giants) a chance to join him. Alex Fasolo is also in the mix for his first game of the season, while young midfielder Brayden Sier is closing in on a debut.

Under the pump: Veteran Travis Varcoe has had a slow start and will be keen to lift against Carlton.

Medical room: Reid is battling a hip issue, key position player Darcy Moore (hamstring) is a significant out and we won't see Tim Broomhead (broken leg) for the rest of the season.

Verdict: Cox is the only certain inclusion and he is desperately required given the Pies' drastic need for talls. Collingwood would love to have Reid back to help provide the forward structure that was sorely missing against the Giants. - Ben Collins


Get them in: The Bombers aren't flush with obvious inclusions, with Jackson Merrett, Mason Redman and Mark Baguley emergencies both weeks of the season so far. Ruckman Matthew Leuenberger was added as an emergency last week as well, while draftee Matt Guelfi has impressed in his time at the club and isn't too far away from a senior call-up.

Under the pump: He won't be dropped, but high-profile recruit Jake Stringer was very quiet in his side's loss to Fremantle with only nine disposals. Kyle Langford also struggled last week but was good in round one against Adelaide so should be given another run.

Medical room: Essendon needs Orazio Fantasia back, but the speedy forward has yet to resume full training after his minor knee surgery before round one so seems at least another week away. David Myers (calf) could be closer and may be able to add some strength around the ball.

Verdict: It was a poor effort from the Bombers in the west, so it seems unlikely they will go with the same side for the third straight week. Essendon will be keen to respond after the Dockers loss, so expect a new face or two. - Callum Twomey 

Jake Stringer needs to step up his output with others waiting in the wings. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: Darcy Tucker responded well to his axing, picking up 28 touches and booting a goal in Peel's round one victory and looms as the next man in if Bradley Hill succumbs to a sore knee. 

Under the pump: The Dockers are unlikely to make many changes after a stirring win over Essendon. Mitch Crowden (11 disposals) seemingly did enough on debut to hold his spot.

Medical room: Bradley Hill is confident of being fit to face Gold Coast but there is a watch on the speedy wingman after he was in obvious pain after copping a knock to the knee against the Bombers.

Verdict: Tough to forecast many changes after a strong team performance in round two. - Travis King


Get them in: Late withdrawals Mitch Duncan (hamstring tightness) and Esava Ratugolea (hip) are a 'watch'. Stewart Crameri (two goals) and Scott Selwood put their hand up in the VFL, while Zac Smith was serviceable ahead of a potential recall against Nic Naitanui.

Under the pump: Cory Gregson (11 possessions), Nakia Cockatoo (10 possessions) and Lachie Fogarty (eight touches) were quiet against the Hawks, while two late goals from seven touches for James Parsons may have saved his spot.

Medical room: Debutant Jack Henry's concussion that ruled him out after half-time in his debut will be monitored. In desperate need of key defenders, Timm House's ankle knock in the VFL will be of concern. 

Verdict: Ratugolea or Smith to return to the line-up for more ruck support to relieve Blicavs to play as a permanent back. Selwood could join Duncan against an Eagles side that smashed the Dogs in contested ball. - Mitch Cleary


Get them in: With Jack Bowes copping a one-match suspension, there'll have to be one change. Matt Rosa plays a similar midfield/half-back role and could come into consideration. Pearce Hanley is an outside chance of returning from his dislocated shoulder.

Under the pump: Another all-around team win – it's hard to find a player not performing the role asked by coach Stuart Dew. Alex Sexton was quiet against the Blues but is ticking boxes with his forward pressure.

Medical room: Hanley is recovering well from his dislocated shoulder but still has a couple of contact sessions to get through to prove his fitness. Sean Lemmens returned from a hamstring injury in the NEAFL, only to break his hand, while Peter Wright's lingering calf problem means his return is at least another week away.

Verdict: Two games and two wins, so the forced change for Bowes is likely to be the only adjustment. Rosa returning seems logical, or Hanley if he proves his fitness. - Michael Whiting


Get them in: Jacob Hopper starred in a NEAFL scratch match last week and could be ready for his first senior game of the year, with the Giants' top draft pick Aiden Bonar also sure to be looked at.

Under the pump: Key defender Aidan Corr was left out against Collingwood but recalled when Toby Greene pulled out late, and with the Swans' lack of tall forwards, he might be on the outer again.

Medical room: Star forward Greene (hamstring tightness) must be doubtful for Saturday night's clash with the Swans.

Verdict: Hopper or Bonar to come in for the injured Tom Scully could be the only change, unless Greene can get through a week of training with no setbacks or the Giants decide to go for more midfield options and drop Corr. - Adam Curley

Jacob Hopper could take Tom Scully's place in the Giants' 22. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: Harry Morrison didn’t play on the weekend and was the standby for Ryan Burton in case he didn’t get up in time to take on the Cats. Conor Glass had a run in the VFL last Friday.

Under the pump:  It was a terrific win by the Hawks and Alastair Clarkson would be reluctant to make many changes, at least on form.

Medical room: James Frawley (foot inflammation) was a late withdrawal on Monday afternoon and there was no conviction in anything said by the Hawks that he will return on Sunday. Ironman Shaun Burgoyne’s streak of 107 consecutive games will end after he pinged a hamstring.

Verdict: Glass and Morrison appear likley to replace Burgoyne and James Sicily (who has accepted a one-match ban for kneeing Joel Selwood). - Ashley Browne


Get them in: Sam Frost, Angus Brayshaw and Mitch Hannan all performed strongly for Casey in a practice match against Frankston on Good Friday and will come into the selection frame for Saturday's game against the Roos. Billy Stretch is another pressing hard to play.

Under the pump: With Frost a chance to come in and play on Jarrad Waite or Ben Brown, Josh Wagner might find the going tough to keep his spot. Tom Bugg, James Harmes and Christian Salem, who did not look like himself after a hefty knock against Geelong the previous week, may find themselves under pressure.

Medical room: Youngster Bayley Fritsch copped a knee to the abdomen against the Lions but played out the game and should be fine to face the Roos. A few others will be monitored but there are no real issues on the injury front.

Verdict: Frost is a big chance to earn a recall with North Melbourne's size up forward, possibly for Wagner. Bugg applies good pressure but Hannan, who booted two goals for Casey, is a little more polished in front of the big sticks. - Ben Guthrie


Get them in: Majak Daw and Mason Wood must both be close to a senior recall, but may need to keep banging down the door in the VFL. The likes of Declan Mountford, Paul Ahern and in-form spearhead Nick Larkey are other contenders if any changes are made. 

Under the pump: Ed Vickers-Willis will probably remain in this category for a while, mostly because of the bevy of defenders – Daw, Ben McKay, Sam Durdin and Daniel Nielson – trying to force their way in.

Medical room: Taylor Garner (groin) faces another fortnight on the sidelines as the Roos take a conservative approach with the oft-injured forward's recovery. Josh Williams (concussion) faces a fitness test after missing last week's VFL practice match, while Sam Wright (foot/ankle) returned in that state league game.

Verdict: North didn't play an extra key defender against St Kilda's three-pronged tall attack, so it's unlikely it will do so against the Demons. The Roos' 52-point win last week might mean a second straight unchanged line-up. - Marc McGowan


Get them in: Veteran goalsneak Lindsay Thomas booted six goals in Port's 95-point thumping of Adelaide in the SANFL, midfielder Joe Atley was impressive with 24 disposals, while Trent McKenzie had 25 touches across half-back.

Under the pump: After two impressive wins against Fremantle and Sydney to start the season, the Power won't make any changes they don't have to.

Medical room: Forward/midfielder Chad Wingard is in doubt with a hamstring injury sustained in the win against the Swans. The six-day break could be too tight.

Verdict: If Wingard can't get up, it'll be a choice between Thomas and midfielders Atley and Karl Amon. - Lee Gaskin

Lindsay Thomas is in form, but will find it hard to break into the Power's line-up. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: It's getting harder to ignore small forward/midfielder Jack Higgins with the first-round draft pick from last year catching the eye again in a VFL hit-out on the weekend. Higgins had 22 disposals, took six marks, laid five tackles and kicked a goal to cap off an impressive summer. With Josh Caddy out, Higgins, who was an emergency last week,  could get his chance, or Callum Moore or Ivan Soldo if they want to maintain a bit more height. Connor Menadue has also shown good form in the VFL off half-back.

Under the pump: There'll be one enforced change with Caddy suspended, but others could pay the price for the Tigers' loss to the Crows. Shai Bolton has been quiet in his two games this season with just one goal while Reece Conca and Corey Ellis could be in the gun for the second week running after limited contribution.

Medical room: Nick Vlastuin should play provided he gets through training and passes fitness tests after missing last week with delayed concussion symptoms. Dion Prestia played two and a bit quarters of a VFL practice match in his first competitive hit-out for 2018 and is over the hamstring injury that derailed his pre-season. Given his lack of summer training, he's likely to need more minutes at VFL level. Caddy is out for a week while Nathan Broad has one more to go on his club sanction.

Verdict: They've got to make at least one change – too many more could appear a kneejerk reaction to their first loss since round 21 last year. Two seems plausible, with Vlastuin and Higgins to come in for Caddy and Corey Ellis. - Jennifer Phelan


Get them in: Onballer Luke Dunstan (36 disposals, 15 clearances) and tough forward Mav Weller (five goals) pushed strong cases at VFL level. Big man Rowan Marshall looms as a ruck option and Sam Gilbert can be a back-up.

Under the pump:  After Good Friday's disastrous performance against North Melbourne, Jack Sinclair, Hunter Clark, Ben Long, Josh Bruce, Paddy McCartin, Nathan Brown and Jack Steele would be among those nervous.

Medical room: Ruckman Billy Longer barely played in the second half last week after copping a knock to his groin region and was again quiet when he was on the field, after a disappointing round one. However, he should be fit after an eight-day break.

Verdict: Dunstan and Weller to replace Steele and Clark, while Marshall could come in for Longer, who has struggled for form. - Dinny Navaratnam


Get them in: Nic Newman was unlucky to lose his spot last week so can slot into defence or on a wing if required, especially if Dan Hannebery (knee) isn't fit to take on the Giants.

Under the pump: Robbie Fox had some shaky moments in the back half against Port, while Gary Rohan failed to have an impact in his first game of the year.

Medical room: Hannebery must have some doubt over him, while tall forward Sam Reid (hamstring) and Zak Jones (calf) could be considered to return for the derby, although another six-day break could hurt their chances.

Verdict: Reid is more of a chance than Jones if he can train strongly early in the week, while Hannebery is likely to be given until late in the week to prove his fitness. - Adam Curley

Nic Newman offers versatility if selected for the clash with GWS. Picture: AFL Photos


Get them in: A horror 118-point hammering from Subiaco wasn't the ideal setting for many Eagles reserves to push their case. Mark Hutchings had 29 touches while Fraser McInnes was the Royals' best with 21 and two goals from the ruck. Tom Cole might need another week.

Under the pump: Jackson Nelson hasn't been at his best in the opening rounds and could make way if the Eagles wanted to bring in Hutchings for a tagging role on one of Geelong's midfield stars.

Medical room: The cavalry isn't arriving yet for East Perth, with Nathan Vardy, Brendon Ah Chee and Oscar Allen still several weeks away.

Verdict: Not likely to be many changes to the side which touched up a rudderless Bulldogs by 51 points. - Travis King


Get them in: Mitch Wallis and Tory Dickson both gave the match committee something to think about after starring performances in a VFL practice match on the weekend. Wallis collected 29 possessions and kicked four goals, while Dickson appeared back to his dangerous best with four goals of his own in a half of playing time. Jack Redpath is available after finally serving a suspension he received in round 21 last year but it remains unclear if the hulking key forward has enough conditioning under his belt for a return to the senior side. Second-year key defender Lewis Young was also impressive in the state league hit-out. Dumped defensive playmaker Shane Biggs was serviceable, but the premiership star blotted his copy book with several turnovers. While he’s struggled for form at VFL level, Tom Boyd must surely return to the senior side with Jackson Trengove out injured. It might be the break the premiership hero needs to reignite his career.

Under the pump: Where do we start? However, midfielders Mitch Honeychurch, Lin Jong and Lukas Webb would be feeling the most nervous after underwhelming performances in the loss to West Coast.

Medical room: Trengove adds to the mounting injury toll after the versatile big man cracked his shoulder blade in the loss to West Coast. Ruckman Jordan Roughead will be monitored for a concussion received in the third term. 

Verdict: Wallis and Dickson loom as inclusions, with Honeychurch and Jong the two likely to make way. Boyd is also a likely in. - Ryan Davidson