Main content

In the mix: round 21

Jumping Jeremy Howe is a likely return for the Magpies - 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
Jumping Jeremy Howe is a likely return for the Magpies

Get them in: Veteran Richard Douglas and forward Mitch McGovern could return for Saturday night's clash with Greater Western Sydney in Canberra. Defender Kyle Cheney is available after serving a one-game suspension.

Under the pump: Jordan Gallucci, Riley Knight, Lachlan Murphy and Cam Ellis-Yolmen could be squeezed out.

Medical room: Douglas (ankle) and McGovern (shoulder) need to get through training this week. Daniel Talia is in doubt with a calf injury sustained in the three-point Showdown win over Port Adelaide.

Verdict: In: Douglas and McGovern. Out: Gallucci and Ellis-Yolmen. Cheney to come back in if Talia can't get up. - Lee Gaskin

Get them in: After missing two weeks through suspension, Tom Cutler would be a welcome return. Ben Keays and Zac Bailey also impressed in the NEAFL.
Under the pump: 
After being recalled last week, Ryan Bastinac was quiet against his former club.

Medical room: No real problems, although Tom Bell's season is officially over after undergoing ankle surgery last Friday.

Verdict: Wouldn't expect many changes, but with his extra pace and run, Cutler is ideally suited to Etihad Stadium and should be recalled. Bastinac might be the man that makes way. - Michael Whiting

Get them in: Matthew Kreuzer, Jacob Weitering and Jack Silvagni should return to the senior team, if fit. No one covered themselves in glory in a 91-point loss to Casey in the VFL, though only seven senior-listed Carlton players featured.

Under the pump: Nick Graham was a late inclusion, but found it difficult to find the footy and managed only nine disposals. Cam O'Shea also returned to the side, but couldn't impact the game in the manner he'd like. Both may struggle to retain their spots in the team.

Medical room: Kreuzer (heart), Weitering (quad) and Silvagni (ankle) will all face fitness tests after just missing selection for Sunday's clash with the Giants.

Verdict: Weitering and Silvagni should replace O'Shea and Graham, provided they prove their fitness during the week. Kreuzer will likely come in for Matthew Lobbe if he is given the all clear by Carlton's doctors. - Riley Beveridge

Jacob Weitering and Jack Silvagni should return after injury. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Star defender Jeremy Howe appears certain to be back for the clash with Brisbane at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night, while Jordan De Goey might be a chance. Other options include versatile big man Sam McLarty, runners James Aish and Josh Smith, backman Adam Oxley and forward Alex Fasolo.

Under the pump: Young midfielder Callum Brown would be nervous after having just five touches against the Swans in 64 per cent of game time.

Medical room: Key defender Darcy Moore (hamstring) is set for more time on the sidelines but Howe (concussion) will boost an inexperienced defence and De Goey (leg) could add X factor.

Verdict: Howe to return and De Goey to join him if passed fit, along with possibly McLarty for his debut. - Ben Collins


Get them in: Essendon looks set to regain defender Matt Dea after he missed last week with concussion. Jayden Laverde might also get a look-in after impressing in the VFL, as could Dylan Clarke and Josh Green.

Under the pump: Aaron Francis gathered only seven disposals last week but should be persisted with for the rest of the season.

Medical room: Captain Dyson Heppell is sore but battling through and should play, while Jake Stringer is also expected to be available despite some ankle concerns last week. Matt Guelfi is unlikely with illness.

Verdict: The Bombers lost last week but played well throughout the contest, so it seems unlikely there will be a bunch of changes against the Saints this weekend. They may be keen to give Laverde a game after his injury worries through the year. - Callum Twomey

Get them in: Superstar midfielder Nat Fyfe is pushing to return from his hamstring injury after five weeks on the sidelines, and if Harley Bennell is OK after his calf scare then it is surely time to pull the trigger for his comeback game against Carlton.

Under the pump: Mitch Crowden only had seven disposals in the Western Derby and might make way if midfield reinforcements arrive.

Medical room: Andrew Brayshaw (broken jaw) is out for the season while Joel Hamling (calf) appears unlikely to be fit to face the Blues. There is a watch on Stephen Hill after he suffered tightness in the derby.

Verdict: Fyfe and Bennell will play if fit, while Tommy Sheridan and Stefan Giro were dominant at Peel after being dropped and are set to come back into selection discussions. – Travis King

Get them in: Expect Tom Stewart (ankle) to be cleared as Rhys Stanley (calf) pushes for a return. Quinton Narkle missed last week due to personal reasons and should be available. Potential debutant Charlie Constable (31 disposals) impressed alongside emergencies Jordan Murdoch and James Parsons in the VFL. Zach Guthrie looks the defender next in line.

Under the pump: Late inclusion Jackson Thurlow (11 disposals) failed to lay a tackle against the Tigers, while Jordan Cunico remains on the edge. Jamaine Jones and Lachie Fogarty were quiet, and Ryan Abbott may fall out due to balance.

Medical room: Jed Bews looks unlikely after injuring his shoulder. Daniel Menzel experienced groin soreness late in the loss, however the eight-day break will assist. Harry Taylor will need a big week on the track to put his name in front of match committee.

Verdict: If fit, Stewart and Stanley for Bews and Abbott. Narkle for Jones or Fogarty. Murdoch for Cunico and Zach Guthrie for Thurlow will be line ball. - Mitch Cleary

Tom Stewart should be cleared to come back in after an ankle injury. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: After a week out through suspension, captain Steven May will return. Ben Ainsworth is fit again and should be close, while Jesse Joyce seems ideal for a recall against the smaller Richmond forward line. Brayden Crossley has recovered from his broken cheekbone as has Rory Thompson from a hamstring niggle.

Under the pump: Hard to find a match-up for Jack Leslie or Max Spencer against the small Richmond forward line, while Wil Powell might need a break and Sean Lemmens has struggled.

Medical room: David Swallow has to pass a concussion test but after missing last week is expected to play, while Peter Wright has been ruled out for the rest of the year with a knee injury.

Verdict: Expect a few changes as Stuart Dew looks for a more competitive outfit. May and Swallow should return, as will Thompson and Crossley, who is a perfect replacement for Wright. Ainsworth and Joyce would add some spark. - Michael Whiting

Get them in: Dylan Shiel (ankle), Tim Taranto (knee), Sam Reid (knee), Aidan Corr (groin) and Ryan Griffen (hamstring) could all be available to face the Crows in Canberra, while Daniel Lloyd, Harry Perryman and Lachie Keeffe are in form in the NEAFL.

Under the pump: With so many fresh injury concerns there are unlikely to be any unforced changes.

Medical room: Brett Deledio (calf) and Dawson Simpson (ankle) won't play against Adelaide and could miss multiple games, while Toby Greene (hamstring) and Sam Taylor (hamstring) are also highly unlikely to play this week.

Verdict: Taranto, Reid, Griffen and Keeffe for Deledio, Greene, Taylor and Simpson. - Adam Curley

Get them in: In Box Hill's comeback win over Collingwood, Jonathan O'Rourke (29 possessions), James Cousins (25) and David Mirra (23) played well, while ruckman Marc Pittonet was pivotal.

Under the pump:  Brendan Whitecross and Ryan Schoenmakers were quiet against Essendon, but Whitecross did kick an important goal while Schoenmakers is critical for team structure.

Medical room: Nothing out of the senior game, but Will Langford hurt his hamstring in the VFL. He usually plays well in the invariably tough games against the Cats and may have been recalled for some extra midfield grunt.

Verdict: No change. - Ashley Browne

Get them in: Cameron Pedersen (31 disposals and 11 marks), Jayden Hunt (21 and seven tackles) and Josh Wagner (23 and 11 tackles) are all in the frame to replace the injured Joel Smith (broken collarbone). Jake Melksham will return if he can overcome a hamstring complaint.

Under the pump: Melbourne won't make too many changes to a side that won by 96 points, although Jay Kennedy Harris, Bernie Vince and Charlie Spargo would be the next in line to go out if Melksham is declared fit.

Medical room: Michael Hibberd (quad) is still at least a week away, while co-captain Jack Viney (foot) will only play again this year if the Demons make the finals. Smith will miss between 3-5 weeks with his injury.

Verdict: Has Hunt had enough match fitness after one game back in the VFL after an ankle injury? Hunt/Wagner for Smith and Melksham for Kennedy Harris. - Ben Guthrie

Jake Melksham is an automatic inclusion if he overcomes a hamstring issue. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Luke Davies-Uniacke won 23 disposals in the VFL for the second straight week as he pushes for a late-season recall. Nick Larkey may have missed his opportunity with Jarrad Waite back, but he hit form with five goals on Saturday after kicking just six in his previous five games.

Under the pump: Someone has to come out for Shaun Higgins. Among the options would be Luke McDonald, two-gamer Will Walker and maybe Nathan Hrovat, although his output has steadily improved. Scott Thompson's form has dipped in the past month, but his spot is safe.

Medical room: The big news is Shaun Higgins will play against the Bulldogs after missing one match recovering from a right knee arthroscope. Billy Hartung and Taylor Garner could both return from hamstring setbacks through the VFL. Alex Morgan (calf) is also a chance to play at some level, while Ben Jacobs' (concussion) return date remains unclear, but he is back training.

Verdict: Higgins comes in and the Roos make a selection statement in dropping McDonald. – Marc McGowan

Get them in: Key defender Dougal Howard could return from injury, while Sam Gray and Jack Trengove are on the outside looking in.

Under the pump: Jack Watts was quiet in the Showdown, not hitting the scoreboard and having 10 disposals, while Jack Hombsch was well beaten by Crows forward Josh Jenkins.

Medical room: Howard needs to pass a fitness test on his injured hand.

Verdict: Howard to replace Hombsch. - Lee Gaskin

Get them in: Nathan Broad, Dion Prestia, Jack Graham and Bachar Houli are all chances to be available this week, causing a logjam at selection.

Under the pump: They've been a pretty even unit over the past few weeks but the quality of players who are a chance to be available mean someone's got to be unlucky. Sam Lloyd and Connor Menadue have been the ones to make way before, while youngster Liam Baker hasn't done much wrong but remains inexperienced and Jack Higgins was scrappy at times with his disposal on Friday night.

Medical room: Broad (calf), Prestia (rib), Graham (shoulder) and Houli (groin) need to get through training this week, while Dan Butler (ankle) will miss at least one more and Reece Conca (ankle) is a chance to play VFL. There were no fresh injuries from round 20 at either level.

Verdict: Broad and Prestia to return, Graham and Houli 50-50 to stay home and line up in the VFL for match minutes. Lloyd and Menadue to be the unlucky duo. – Jennifer Phelan


Get them in: At least one of Rowan Marshall and Lewis Pierce will almost certainly play. Sandringham had the bye last week but Ben Paton is very close to a debut, while defender Sam Gilbert is in the mix.

Under the pump: Nick Coffield, Luke Dunstan and Jack Newnes were quiet, while David Armitage was used in a different role across half-back and has been dropped three times this year.

Medical room: A ruck change will need to be made after Tom Hickey suffered a left hamstring tendon injury against the Western Bulldogs, while Josh Battle has been ruled out with concussion.

Verdict: Marshall, Pierce and Paton for Battle, Hickey and Newnes. – Dinny Navaratnam

Get them in: Veterans Dan Hannebery (calf) and Gary Rohan (hand) should be available to return against Melbourne on Sunday if they can get another full week of training under the belt.

Under the pump: Young forwards Tom McCartin, Will Hayward and Ben Ronke all look in need of a rest, while Dan Robinson hasn't had an impact in the midfield.

Medical room: Ronke (migraine) missed the latter part of last week's win over Collingwood but will be fit to take on the Demons.

Verdict: Hannebery and Rohan for Robinson and Hayward. - Adam Curley

Veteran Dan Hannebery needs to get through training to face the Demons. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: It has been an up-and-down season for Dom Sheed but the left-footer is the obvious candidate to replace suspended star Andrew Gaff and make a midfield spot his own before finals.

Under the pump: There won't be many unforced changes after a crushing Western Derby win.

Medical room: Versatile defender Will Schofield will miss with a hamstring, which could open the door for first-year tall Oscar Allen to come back into the line-up as the Eagles juggle their key position stocks.

Verdict: Sheed had 34 touches and kicked two goals for East Perth and looks set to return, while Allen might be called up for his second AFL game. Brendon Ah Chee and Jake Waterman are other midfield and tall options, respectively for the trip to face Port. – Travis King

Get them in: If Billy Gowers (ankle) and Marcus Adams (shoulder) pass fitness tests, they're automatic inclusions to face North Melbourne at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Under the pump: Lin Jong was quiet in the win over the Saints after returning from a broken collarbone.

Medical room: Roarke Smith sustained his second concussion in a fortnight in the first quarter of the win over St Kilda. The head knock came just a week after he was involved in a car accident.

Verdict: Gowers for Smith - Ryan Davidson

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs