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In the mix: round 22

Toby Nankervis is likely to return for the clash with 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
Toby Nankervis is likely to return for the clash with Essendon

Get them in: Paul Seedsman (hamstring) and Riley Knight (knee) could be available while Daniel Talia (calf) is less likely. Mitch McGovern looks to be a straight swap for the suspended Taylor Walker. Pat Wilson, Jake Kelly and Myles Poholke had strong SANFL games to push their cases for a recall, while it could be time to debut exciting key position prospect Elliott Himmelberg.

Under the pump:  Hugh Greenwood might need a rest, having just 10 disposals against Greater Western Sydney last Saturday night in Canberra.

Medical room: Talia played three weeks with a fractured shin, before corking his calf in the round 20 Showdown. Seedsman has missed two games with a hamstring injury.

Verdict: In: McGovern, Seedsman, Knight. Out: Walker, Greenwood, Cam Ellis-Yolmen. - Lee Gaskin

Get them in: No NEAFL match at the weekend, but a couple of players put their hands up from previous weeks including Claye Beams, Cedric Cox and Zac Bailey.

Under the pump: Brandon Starcevich was quiet against the Magpies, but would be unlucky to be dropped after just two games.

Medical room: Reliable defender Darcy Gardiner has been ruled out for the remainder of 2018 with a dislocated right shoulder.

Verdict: With Gardiner to miss, watch for either Beams or Cox to come in as a running defender against the smaller Gold Coast forward line. - Michael Whiting


Get them in: Levi Casboult gave a good account of himself playing as a lone ruckman in the VFL, winning 39 hit-outs and kicking a goal. Aaron Mullett kicked three goals from 23 disposals, while Cam O'Shea was also impressive down back. Jacob Weitering may return from a quad injury.

Under the pump: The Blues are likely to keep persisting with Cam Polson, despite another quiet display that yielded just five disposals on Sunday. Darcy Lang and Nick Graham also had minimal impact, while Lochie O'Brien looked tired and may need a rest.

Medical room: Matthew Kreuzer will miss the remainder of the season after suffering another elevated heart rate. Weitering may return from a severely corked quad.

Verdict: Casboult could reclaim his place in the side after Kreuzer was ruled out for the remainder of the year. Mullett and Weitering may come into consideration across half-back. - Riley Beveridge

Get them in: Intercept specialist Jeremy Howe would be a welcome inclusion for the big encounter with Port Adelaide at the MCG on Saturday, while the likes of big man Sam McLarty, runners Callum Brown, Josh Daicos and Josh Smith, and forward Alex Fasolo stake their claims.

Under the pump: Rookie-listed Adam Oxley played his first game in two years but he is the most likely to make way for Howe.

Medical room: Howe (thigh) should be back after copping a deep cork, and concussion, in the round 19 clash with Richmond.

Verdict: The return of Howe would bolster an inexperienced, undersized defence that continues to defy the naysayers. - Ben Collins

The experience of Jeremy Howe is badly needed in the Pies' back half. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Essendon should be buoyed by the return of Matt Guelfi from illness and Matt Dea from concussion for this week's clash with Richmond. Key defender Michael Hartley was among the best in the VFL, while Kobe Mutch also impressed.

Under the pump: The Bombers have a series of injury issues to deal with, but wouldn't want to change a winning team too much. Expect every fit player to retain his spot in the team.

Medical room: Brendon Goddard escaped serious damage after suffering a knee injury on Friday night. He has not yet been ruled out this week. Adam Saad will be monitored after suffering a concussion. Cale Hooker (knee) also faces a nervous wait after failing to finish Friday night's match against St Kilda, while Orazio Fantasia (hamstring) is definitely out.

Verdict: A lot may depend on the verdict from Essendon's scans this week. They would love Goddard, Saad and Hooker to be available for selection, though none are certainties. Guelfi and Dea should be available, with one likely to replace Fantasia, while Hartley and Mutch will likely be on standby after impressing in the VFL. - Riley Beveridge

Get them in: After six games on the sidelines, Nat Fyfe is a slim chance to be back from his hamstring strain for a showdown with Geelong. Tagger Bailey Banfield was left out against Carlton for team balance but is likely to return for a job on a star Cats onballer.

Under the pump: The Dockers are unlikely to make many changes to a winning side but Stefan Giro or Ryan Nyhuis could make way if others return from injury.

Medical room: Key defender Joel Hamling (calf) might be a chance to return, while doubt surrounds Harley Bennell (calf) and Aaron Sandilands' (calf) availability.

Verdict: Fyfe is doubtful, Banfield will probably be recalled and Brandon Matera would have to be a chance to return to replace injured star Michael Walters (hamstring). – Travis King

Skipper Nat Fyfe is an outside chance to return from his hamstring strain. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Ryan Abbott looks the man most likely to replace Rhys Stanley. Jackson Thurlow (26 disposals in the VFL) and Zach Guthrie are waiting in defence, while Jordan Murdoch (21 disposals, three goals) and Jordan Cunico (21 disposals) provide midfield options. Jamaine Jones (18 disposals) could continue the revolving door of small forwards. Chris Scott said Harry Taylor was only a "40-60" chance.

Under the pump: Scott admitted it was a "brave" call to select Mark O'Connor, who was quiet along with Lachie Fogarty (five disposals) and James Parsons (eight disposals).

Medical room: Stanley's calf strain will rule him out for at least one match and Jed Bews will need to prove he's over a shoulder injury. The Cats insist Zach Tuohy will extend his consecutive games streak to 136 despite a small crack in his hand.

Verdict: Bews, Thurlow or Guthrie for O'Connor. Jones for Parsons and if required, Cunico or Murdoch for Fogarty. - Mitch Cleary

Get them in: Brad Scheer and Josh Schoenfeld were strong in the NEAFL, while Jack Scrimshaw has had a decent stretch of games in recent weeks.

Under the pump: Kade Kolodjashnij has battled in recent weeks, while Jack Leslie and Wil Powell were quiet against Richmond.

Medical room: Hamstring injuries against the Tigers will rule out Pearce Hanley and Will Brodie for the final two rounds. Rory Thompson (hamstring) and Sean Lemmens (hand) will undergo fitness tests.

Verdict: If Thompson passes his test, he'll come in alongside Leslie and May to combat the Lions' tall forward line. It would be a good time to trial Scrimshaw, possibly at Kolodjashnij's expense, while either Lemmens (depending on fitness) or Scheer should replace Brodie. - Michael Whiting

Get them in: Both Daniel Lloyd (six goals and 37 possessions) and Harry Perryman (43 disposals and a goal) dominated in the NEAFL last week and are ready to come in, while Jeremy Finlayson has been solid in the reserves so could also get another chance.

Under the pump: With more injury problems this week there's unlikely to be any unforced changes.

Medical room: Josh Kelly was knocked out cold so is unlikely to play in the Sydney derby, while Heath Shaw has been ruled out for the season, and Sam Reid will also miss multiple games. Key defender Aidan Corr could return from his groin issue but will need a solid week on the track.

Verdict: Lloyd, Perryman and Finlayson in for Kelly, Shaw and Reid. - Adam Curley

Daniel Lloyd had a strong match in the NEAFL last week, and is primed to be back. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: David Mirra kicked four goals for Box Hill after an unusual foray forward, while James Cousins picked up 33 touches.

Under the pump: It would be harsh to single out anyone after the 11-point win over the Cats. 

Medical room: Jarryd Roughead (ankle) was a late withdrawal on the weekend, while Ben McEvoy is just about due back from a broken cheekbone.

Verdict:  Marc Pittonet and Conor Nash both did their jobs, and more, against the Cats but don't keep Roughead and McEvoy out of the side. - Ashley Browne

Get them in: Michael Hibberd (quad) and Jake Melksham (hamstring) look to be good chances to return to face West Coast on Sunday. Dean Kent (21 disposals and three goals) could earn a recall, while Sam Weideman (two goals), Tom Bugg (28 touches) and Josh Wagner (25) will also be in the frame.

Under the pump: Jesse Hogan (foot) is out for the season with a partial stress fracture and Jayden Hunt (ankle) will almost certainly miss. Charlie Spargo and Jay Kennedy Harris are others who could make way.

Medical room: Hibberd and Melksham will have to prove their fitness at training on Thursday, while Hunt is set to miss.

Verdict: Melksham, Hibberd and Kent for Hogan, Hunt and Spargo. - Ben Guthrie

Get them in: Luke Davies-Uniacke had another strong game in the VFL, winning a season-high 28 disposals to put his hand up again for AFL selection. Billy Hartung racked up 15 touches and kicked two goals before putting the boots away at three-quarter time in his return from a hamstring injury. Nathan Hrovat, Tom Murphy and Declan Mountford are the other contenders.

Under the pump: Luke McDonald's form has been tapering off for weeks and his season as a whole has failed to match last year's heights, when he placed fifth in the Syd Barker Medal. Will Walker and, to a lesser degree, Paul Ahern might be vulnerable, too.

Medical room: Ben Jacobs (concussion) might be ready for a return this week after playing just once since round 12. Alex Morgan (calf), Taylor Garner (hamstring), Josh Williams (back) and Tristan Xerri (groin) will have to pass fitness tests to play in the VFL. Braydon Preuss (general soreness) didn't play last weekend, either, which delivered category B ruckman Tom Jeffries a rare opportunity.

Verdict: Davies-Uniacke and Hartung come in and McDonald and Walker go out. Jacobs is the wildcard if he is declared fit. – Marc McGowan

Get them in: Ruckman Billy Frampton will likely make his debut if Paddy Ryder is ruled out. Jack Hombsch could come in to allow Dougal Howard to ruck. Sam Powell-Pepper, Riley Bonner and Jack Trengove will also be considered.

Under the pump: Third-gamer Kane Farrell was quiet in the Power's loss to West Coast, but plays an important role with his forward pressure.

Medical room: Charlie Dixon (leg) is out for the season, while Ryder (hip flexor), Jared Polec (hamstring) and Dan Houston (neck) are in doubt.

Verdict: In: Frampton and Hombsch. Out: Dixon and Ryder. Howard to start forward, changing with Frampton in the ruck. - Lee Gaskin

Billy Frampton is likely to make his debut in Paddy Ryder's injury absence. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Toby Nankervis (corked quad) should return after being managed last week from the Gold Coast game. Anthony Miles continued to shine at VFL level with 29 disposals and a goal on Saturday while Corey Ellis had 26, Connor Menadue 19 and Sam Lloyd laid a whopping 12 tackles.  

Under the pump: Ivan Soldo held his own against Jarrod Witts but will stand aside for the return of Nankervis. Jason Castagna was quiet but will hold his spot with no obvious replacement and at least one forced change for the clash with Essendon. 

Medical room: Nankervis will be fine but Kane Lambert will miss the next two weeks after minor surgery to strengthen his ankle following an incident against the Suns. Dan Butler had the same procedure last week after failing to regain full power in his recovery from a round 16 sprain. The Tigers are now preparing both for the first final. Reece Conca had 19 disposals before rolling his "other" ankle in his return game at VFL level but should be available this weekend, although the VFL team has a bye.

Verdict: Nankervis in for Soldo and Menadue/Lloyd for Lambert. – Jennifer Phelan

Get them in: Backman Hugh Goddard could play his first match in more than two years after collecting 22 disposals and 14 marks for Sandringham, while Logan Austin returned from a groin injury. Sam Gilbert is also in the mix. Tough onballer Luke Dunstan responded to being dropped with 32 disposals while Mav Weller (23 disposals and one goal) also had an impact.

Under the pump: The midfield was poor for the second successive week, this time against Essendon, and will come under scrutiny. Jack Newnes was quiet, as was defender Bailey Rice.

Medical room: Draftee Hunter Clark needs to overcome illness while defender Nathan Brown will front the Tribunal on Tuesday night after his big bump left Essendon backman Adam Saad concussed. Forward Josh Battle will try to overcome his own concussion.

Verdict: Gilbert, Weller and Austin for Rice, Newnes and Brown. - Dinny Navaratnam

Hugh Goddard is in line for his first match in more than two years. Picture: AFL Photos

Get them in: Midfielder Zak Jones will add some fresh legs after serving his two-game suspension, while Colin O'Riordan, Darcy Cameron, Dan Robinson and Robbie Fox were outstanding in the NEAFL last week.

Under the pump: After such a courageous team win there are unlikely to be any players dropped for the Sydney derby.

Medical room: Luckless defender Alex Johnson is set for another long stint out of the game with the club confirming on Tuesday he has suffered another ACL rupture, while Nick Smith has been ruled out for six weeks with a hamstring tendon injury.

Verdict: Jones and O'Riordan for Johnson and Smith. - Adam Curley

Get them in: The Eagles have some breathing space after snatching victory over Port Adelaide and are expected to choose to give spearhead Josh Kennedy (shin) one more week.

Under the pump: Youngster Daniel Venables hasn't had much impact since returning from a long-term ankle injury and might benefit from a spell in the WAFL.

Medical room: There is a watch on Nathan Vardy (knee) and Liam Ryan (corked thigh), although both played out the win over the Power.

Verdict: East Perth had a thumping win and Jake Waterman bagged seven goals from 20 touches to push his name forward again, especially if Kennedy isn't fit, while Brayden Ainsworth might earn a recall after racking up 39 touches, Matthew Allen was travelling emergency last round and Jackson Nelson is pushing for his first game since round 14. – Travis King

Get them in: Easton Wood (hamstring) and Marcus Adams (shoulder) will both have to pass fitness tests to be considered to replace Zaine Cordy (fractured forehead).

Under the pump: There weren't too many Dogs who didn't do their job in the win over the Kangaroos, so any omissions should be considered unlucky.

Medical room: Roarke Smith (concussion) will also have to pass a fitness test to play.

Verdict: Wood for Cordy - Ryan Davidson

Captain Easton Wood will need to pass a fitness test to return for the Dogs. Picture: AFL Photos