Important playmaker Wayne Milera faces six to nine months on the sidelines after suffering a ruptured patella tendon in Saturday's practice match against Port Adelaide. The 23-year-old underwent successful surgery and is recovering before starting a long rehabilitation process. Midfielder Matt Crouch (groin soreness) is pushing to play at either AFL or SANFL level this week after a pre-season affected by his off-season hip surgery. Defender Tom Doedee (groin) is also hopeful of playing minutes this weekend ahead of round one. Key defender Daniel Talia (knee) is aiming to be available in the early rounds after off-season knee surgery. Rookie forward Ben Davis suffered a left syndesmosis injury in the SANFL practice match at the weekend and will undergo further scans this week. Veteran David Mackay remains sidelined with concussion symptoms from an internal trial on February 20. – Nathan Schmook

The Crows will be keen to get Tom Doedee healthy after a luckless couple of seasons. Picture: AFL Photos

The Lions are in good health with Darcy Gardiner the main concern as the season approaches. Gardiner had a clean-up on his knee in February and coach Chris Fagan has confirmed the reliable defender will miss round one, but is expected to return shortly after. Geelong recruit Nakia Cockatoo recently suffered a hamstring strain and has been reduced to light running. He hasn't competed in any match simulation for a couple of weeks and is unlikely to start the season. Youngster Connor McFadyen is recovering from an ACL and still a few months away. – Michael Whiting

Nakia Cockatoo's Lions debut may have to wait a while longer. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues will be sweating on a number of attacking options ahead of Thursday night's AAMI Community Series clash with the Saints. Mitch McGovern is touch-and-go to play due to a low-grade hamstring strain, but remains in the mix for round one, while Levi Casboult is in a similar situation as he recovers from a jarred knee sustained in an intraclub match. Eddie Betts is also in the frame to return following a minor calf setback. Tom De Koning is progressing better than expected from a back problem and should return in the early stages of the year, but Caleb Marchbank will miss round one with a calf issue, as will former first-round pick Sam Philp, who is dealing with a hip flexor injury. Charlie Curnow (knee), Brodie Kemp (foot) and Nic Newman (knee) are all long-term prospects. – Riley Beveridge

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Betts dips into bag of tricks for lovely lefty

Eddie Betts snares Carlton's opener in some style after a beautiful deft touch on his left

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Jordan De Goey will play his first pre-season match of the year against Richmond on Friday night after recovering from a rolled ankle that kept him out of last week's trip to face Geelong. Chris Mayne will be forced to sit out for a second consecutive game after sustaining concussion at training on February 23, given the AFL's new concussion rule mandates a 12-day break after a head knock. Reigning best and fairest Taylor Adams is working back from a hamstring injury, and while he might not face the Tigers, is pushing to tackle the Western Bulldogs in round one. Brody Mihocek was taken out of the practice match with the Cats early after a leg knock and, despite being on light duties at training this week, isn't in doubt to meet the Dogs. - Mitch Cleary­

Big things are expected from Jordan De Goey in 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers had a few players missing in last week's practice match with Carlton. Andrew McGrath missed under concussion protocols but is expected to be available for Saturday night's AAMI Community Series game with Geelong, but others are facing longer waits on the sidelines. Michael Hurley's severe hip infection means the Bombers have no idea when he will be ready to play again after losing significant weight while in hospital, while David Zaharakis (knee) and Patrick Ambrose (foot) are also recovering from their injuries from last year. Jake Stringer has battled an Achilles issue that has put him behind the eight ball for the Bombers' season-opener, while young forward Harrison Jones hurt his knee at training this week, but no significant damage was sustained and he remains on track for a round one debut. – Callum Twomey

The Bombers are unsure on Michael Hurley's expected return. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers are hopeful ruckman Sean Darcy will be available for round one as he prepares to return to football training following a knee injury. Matt Taberner (quad), meanwhile, will play minutes in Sunday's AAMI Community Series clash against West Coast as preparation for the season opener. Club champion Luke Ryan escaped serious injury in the Dockers' scratch match and should be available on Sunday, while Adam Cerra (calf tightness) was managed in Freo’s hitout. Luke Valente kicked himself in the calf when pushed while kicking and is now building fitness ahead of round one. Key defenders Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling each played minutes in the scratch match and should be right to go in round one with some final match conditioning against the Eagles on Sunday. – Nathan Schmook

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Taberner proves too strong for McKay

Matt Taberner and Ben McKay battle for the ball, with the Docker coming out on top

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Midfielder Mitch Duncan is in a race against time for round one after back-to-back calf setbacks. He and Luke Dahlhaus (groin) are expected to miss the AAMI Community Series date with Essendon on Saturday night when the Cats get Isaac Smith (rolled ankle) and Esava Ratugolea (leg knock) back. Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Patrick Dangerfield (groin) will increase their minutes against the Bombers after interrupted summers. Zach Tuohy is also likely to feature after a back spasm ruled him out of last week's Collingwood hitout, while there's a watch on Rhys Stanley after he was forced to watch the second half against the Pies following a heavy knock. Second-year midfielder Cooper Stephens has been slowed by a knee complaint, Darcy Fort (knee) is sidelined and Sam Simpson is still working back from off-season shoulder surgery. - Mitch Cleary­

Jeremy Cameron is shaping up well for his Cats debut. Picture: AFL Photos

Club champion Sam Collins (foot) missed the weekend's practice match against Brisbane but is expected to return for the AAMI Community Series match against the same opponent or certainly by round one. Adelaide recruit Rory Atkins has resumed with the main group after a foot problem, but after missing an intraclub and practice match will unlikely be available for the start of the season. Back-up ruckman Zac Smith copped a bump to his knee in the VFL practice match on Saturday that is still being scanned, while top-10 draft pick Elijah Hollands and reliable fullback Rory Thompson are both still recovering from ACL injuries. – Michael Whiting

If the Suns are to improve they'll need Sam Collins in top shape. Picture: AFL Photos

The Giants copped another blow last week with Jesse Hogan suffering a quad injury during training. The former Demon and Docker was having a strong pre-season, but the latest setback is expected to have him touch-and-go for round one. This came a week after fellow recruit Braydon Preuss was ruled out for up to five months with a shoulder injury. All Australian defender Lachie Whitfield (liver) is another on the clock to start the season, while in better news Phil Davis (knee) resumed training last week. It is hoped the former skipper will be available to play this weekend, but if not, will certainly be available for the season opener. – Michael Whiting

A new club hasn't brought a change of luck for Jesse Hogan. Picture: AFL Photos

Another soft-tissue setback for Chad Wingard has the mercurial forward in a battle to be fit for the season opener with Essendon. Wingard injured his calf in a Hawks intraclub match late last month and will sit out this week's AAMI Community Series match-up with North Melbourne. Tom Mitchell (off-season shoulder reconstruction) is leaving his run late having still not yet graduated to full training, however coach Alastair Clarkson said he'd be tempted to throw the Brownlow medallist in against the Bombers with no hitouts under his belt. Jack Scrimshaw is unlikely to tackle Essendon with bone bruising in his knee, while Jack Gunston (back) has been ruled out for at least the first month. Seamus Mitchell (ankle) and Jack Saunders (hamstring) are working back to full fitness with James Sicily (ACL) a long-term prospect. - Mitch Cleary­

A calf injury won't help the Hawks' plans to get Chad Wingard in the midfield. Picture: AFL Photos

Demons midfielder Jack Viney is facing an uphill battle to return from foot surgery for round one, but Angus Brayshaw will play in a VFL practice match this weekend as he makes his bid to play in the season opener. Kysaiah Pickett should also be in the frame, with the exciting forward to return to Victoria on Sunday after being allowed to travel to Perth for personal reasons due to a family bereavement. Jake Melksham is another that has his eyes set on a round one return, having dealt with a hamstring complaint. Key forward duo Ben Brown (knee) and Sam Weideman (leg) will both miss the opening stages of the season and could still be around two months away in their recoveries. Meanwhile, youngster Aaron Nietschke is set to miss the entire season after cruelly rupturing his ACL for the third time. – Riley Beveridge

Jack Viney is racing to be ready for round one. Picture: AFL Photos

The Kangaroos should welcome back experienced duo Todd Goldstein (bruised ribs) and Ben Cunnington (concussion) for Saturday's AAMI Community Series clash with the Hawks, after both missed last week's practice match defeat to the Saints. Jed Anderson (calf), Trent Dumont (calf) and Jared Polec (hamstring) all remain in line to play round one, but are still touch-and-go to feature this weekend. Aiden Bonar is set to miss the opening stages of the season due to a calf issue, while rookie Matt McGuiness is a month away following a finger injury. Charlie Comben (leg) is a long-term prospect at this stage. – Riley Beveridge

Ben Cunnington at North's team photo day in early February. Picture: Dylan Burns, AFL Photos

Bullocking midfielder/forward Sam Powell-Pepper is unlikely for round one after suffering a broken bone in his hand that required surgery, with the Power to make a definitive call on his availability closer to the March 21 clash against North Melbourne. Power star Robbie Gray also missed Port's practice match against Adelaide after suffering a head knock that split him open from his nose to upper lip. Young star Connor Rozee proved he was not hampered by a foot issue, kicking two goals in the practice match. Captain Tom Jonas was managed for that clash, but he will feature in the AAMI Community Series game on Sunday. Forward Todd Marshall hurt his cheek against the Crows, but is expected to be available for Sunday's final tune-up. – Nathan Schmook

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Class of Rozee for red-hot finish

Port young gun Connor Rozee is afforded too much space and makes the Dees pay with a fine snap on goal

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Richmond's main concern heading into round one will be Dion Prestia, with the triple-premiership Tiger racing to be ready after his recent hamstring setback. Bachar Houli has all but been ruled out for the clash with Carlton after battling the calf tear he suffered in last year's Grand Final win over Geelong, while Kane Lambert didn't feature against Melbourne in last week's practice match as he overcomes off-season hip surgery. Daniel Rioli also missed it with a minor ankle concern emanating from the Tigers' intraclub the previous week, while Riley Collier-Dawkins was on the end of a heavy collision that day as well, so sat out last week but should be available this week. Ivan Soldo and Noah Cumberland are in their comebacks from their respective knee reconstructions last year, with Soldo tracking well to be available later in the season. – Callum Twomey

Bachar Houli at a Richmond training session at Punt Road on February 18, 2021. Picture: Dylan Burns, AFL Photos

All eyes will be on Dan Hannebery's next fortnight after a five-week block hampered by a calf setback. The former Swan hasn't trained fully since January, however the Saints are still yet to put a line through his name for round one against Greater Western Sydney. Rowan Marshall will miss at least the first two weeks of the season with a hotspot in his foot, but coach Brett Ratten is bullish his No.1 ruckman will return soon after. Zak Jones is touch-and-go to face the Giants after another hamstring setback, but Shaun McKernan (ankle) should play in Thursday night's AAMI Community Series match against Carlton alongside Jade Gresham who sat out last week. Dean Kent will be one to watch as he deals with bone bruising in his knee. Jarryn Geary is walking unassisted after a fractured fibula, but will miss at least the opening rounds. Ryan Byrnes it out for an extended period with a serious hamstring injury and Ben Paton has been ruled out for the season after his cruel tibia and fibula break. - Mitch Cleary­

Injuries have dogged Dan Hannebery through the past few seasons. Picture: AFL Photos

The major question mark surrounding the Swans is superstar Lance Franklin. Buddy recently had a setback with his calf but has resumed running. He is close to a return to full training, and with the Swans not putting a timetable on his return, will be racing the clock to be available for round one. The only other injury on the club's list is Sam Naismith, who is recovering from the ruptured ACL he suffered in the middle of last year. The ruckman is increasing his training load and progressing nicely, but is still a little way off returning. - Michael Whiting

Lance Franklin walks around Lakeside Oval during Swans training in late January. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis) remains the Eagles’ major injury concern, with the star midfielder continuing to run solo away from the main group in a push for an early season return. Star ruckman Nic Naitanui (hamstring) is expected to play minutes in Sunday's AAMI Community Series clash against Fremantle, while midfielder Tim Kelly (broken thumb) is in the mix after returning to training, where he is marking and handballing. Champion forward Josh Kennedy (calf) is not expected to feature after training away from the main group in recent sessions. Young ruckmen Callum Jamieson (groin) and Bailey Williams (quad) have recovered from recent setbacks, as have defender Jackson Nelson (hamstring) and speedster Jack Petruccelle (hamstring). Midfielder Mark Hutchings (knee) is training away from the main group following Iliotibial band surgery. – Nathan Schmook

Tim Kelly is back in training. Picture: AFL Photos

The big watch is on Adam Treloar, who could make his first appearance for the Bulldogs next Monday in the AAMI Community Series after being sidelined with a calf injury in recent weeks. The big-name recruit is one of only a handful of Dogs on the injury list at this stage, however, with Aaron Naughton available again after a corkie forced him to miss the practice match against Hawthorn last week. Easton Wood remains in the rehabilitation group after his hamstring strain, while a return date for former Demons forward Mitch Hannan is unclear as he battles his groin injury. Premiership forward Toby McLean and second-year prospect Riley Garcia are coming back from their knee injuries, with Garcia having a setback in December that required further surgery. – Callum Twomey