WHO IS a chance to play in round nine?
In this week's In the Mix we find the players who are giving their selectors plenty of food for thought.
Who's going out, who's sore, who is under the pump? Our reporters attempt to pick all the R9 ins and outs. Check it out.
Chayce Jones is building form in defence and could earn a chance to play that role at senior level after 27 disposals and seven rebounds in the SANFL. Recruit Jackson Hately also impressed with 26, 13 tackles and seven clearances. Billy Frampton booted four goals, while Josh Worrell (13 and four rebounds) is waiting to debut and should be tested soon. Big-bodied inside midfielder Ronin O'Connor had 24 and seven clearances in a well-rounded game to push his case. Lachlan Murphy (syndesmosis) and Ned McHenry (concussion) are certain omissions.
R8 medical substitute: Andrew McPherson (replaced Ned McHenry)
Verdict: Hately, O'Connor and Jones for McHenry, Murphy, Mackay. Worrell replaces McPherson as medical substitute. - Nathan Schmook
Another win and another week of no injuries means it's hard to see much changing for Saturday's QClash against Gold Coast. Darcy Gardiner got through unscathed after missing the previous match through concussion. Deven Robertson was a touch quiet but still effective in his midfield role and deserves to hold his spot. The VFL team had a bye and plays the Suns on Thursday night.
R8 medical sub: Keidean Coleman (unused)
Verdict: Unchanged. - Michael Whiting
The Blues should regain Marc Murphy from a lingering neck issue for this weekend's clash with the unbeaten Demons. Expect the veteran to replace Jack Silvagni, who enters the AFL's 12-day concussion protocols. Talented young ruckman Tom De Koning continued his impressive return from a back problem in the VFL, winning 12 disposals and 34 hitouts last week. He should replace either Marc Pittonet or Levi Casboult, after David Teague put the acid on his rucks following last Sunday's loss to the Bulldogs. Nic Newman was also impressive in the reserves, while youngster Josh Honey kicked two goals and could be an option as a pressure forward. This could be the week for statements at the selection table, as the side's finals chances continue to dissipate at 3-5 on the year.
R8 medical sub: Sam Petrevski-Seton (replaced Jack Silvagni)
Verdict: Murphy to replace Silvagni, with De Koning coming in for Pittonet. Don't be surprised if Newman and Honey win call-ups as well. - Riley Beveridge
The Pies will be forced into at least two changes with key back Jordan Roughead and wingman Nathan Murphy ruled out through concussion. Will Kelly would be the obvious replacement as a key back, while Category B rookie Tom Wilson continues to put his hand up for a debut as an intercept defender. Tyler Brown and Ollie Henry remain on the fringe after winning recalls last week, while Will Hoskin-Elliott lacked impact and Beau McCreery had four touches but stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 38 pressure acts. Finlay Macrae (31 disposals) and Jay Rantall (27) responded well in the VFL after being dropped and will be considered along with medical sub Callum Brown. Jack Madgen, Trent Bianco and Brayden Sier will all be considered. Mason Cox booted one goal and remains behind Darcy Cameron.
R8 medical sub: Callum Brown (replaced Murphy)
Verdict: Kelly and Macrae for Roughead and Murphy. - Mitch Cleary
There's at least one forced changed at Essendon after Jake Stringer suffered a four-week hamstring injury. Substitute Matt Guelfi replaced him during the loss to the Giants and had an immediate impact in the second half and should hold his spot in what would be his 50th AFL game. The club recalled ruckman Andrew Phillips last week at the expense of youngster Nick Bryan given it was facing Shane Mumford at the Giants, but could look at bringing Bryan back this week against Fremantle.
R8 medical sub: Matt Guelfi (replaced Stringer)
Verdict: Guelfi in for Stringer. - Callum Twomey
Midfielder Adam Cerra completed running and touch work over the weekend and will be assessed this week after battling an ankle syndesmosis injury. He shapes as an automatic inclusion if passed fit after travelling with the team for its two-match road trip. Likewise club champion Luke Ryan, who pushed his case last week after a minor calf injury. Sam Switkowski is close after recovering from a finger injury, while first-year speedster Joel Western travelled with the team and is on the cusp of making his debut. The prospect of Alex Pearce returning without a WAFL match after a long recovery from an ankle injury appears unlikely. Michael Frederick is a certain omission with an ankle syndesmosis injury.
R8 medical substitute: Connor Blakely (replaced Michael Frederick)
Verdict: Western and Ryan for Frederick and Taylin Duman. - Nathan Schmook
Despite picking Esava Ratugolea at training on Wednesday, the Cats named the dropped Rhys Stanley on Thursday night, only to trigger the late change an hour before the bounce on Friday. It cost Stanley minutes in the VFL and therefore it will be hard to see him winning his spot back to face St Kilda. While Mark Blicavs took the bulk of the ruck work against Richmond, he may be needed in defence against Max King and Paddy Ryder/Rowan Marshall. It could open the door for Darcy Fort, who excelled in the VFL, to partner Esava Ratugolea. Medical sub Quinton Narkle performed strongly when he replaced Sam Simpson (hamstring) during the Richmond win, while Max Holmes was the carryover emergency and the VFL performances of Jordan Clark (29 disposals) and Josh Jenkins (7.5) can't be dismissed. Jake Kolodjashnij is pushing to return but might just be held for one more week. Zach Guthrie impressed against the Tigers, while Luke Dahlhaus has been cleared of injury.
R8 medical sub: Quinton Narkle (replaced Simpson)
Verdict: Narkle to replace Simpson and Clark to jump in as the medical sub. Backing in the same ruck and defence set-up that beat Richmond. - Mitch Cleary
The Suns will be forced to make a couple of changes for Saturday's QClash against Brisbane with Touk Miller (suspension) and Nick Holman (concussion) both unavailable. Miller's absence opens the door for either Will Brodie or Brayden Fiorini, who have both been playing well in the VFL, to earn a call-up. If Stuart Dew wants to replace Holman with another pressure forward, Mal Rosas Jnr could be in line for a debut, while Darcy Macpherson and Alex Sexton are also options, although Sexton is short of work after being the unused medical sub three straight times.
R8 medical sub: Alex Sexton (unused)
Verdict: Fiorini and Rosas for Miller and Holman - Michael Whiting
Lachlan Keeffe has been a pillar in defence but will miss the rest of the season after tearing his ACL in the final minute of the match against Essendon. Jesse Hogan missed that game after feeling tightness in his calf but the prized recruit was mainly left out as a precaution. He just needs to get through training this week to be available to replace Jeremy Finlayson, who is suspended for one week. Veteran ruckman Shane Mumford didn’t have as much impact against the Bombers as in previous weeks, so after two consecutive matches he might be rested and Matt Flynn given another opportunity. The Giants’ VFL team had a bye, so Jake Riccardi couldn’t be trialled in defence for a second time, but the 40 disposals and 19 marks he claimed down back the week before could be enough for him to return.
R8 medical sub: Conor Stone (unused)
Verdict: Hogan, Riccardi, Flynn come in for Keeffe, Finlayson and Mumford. - Martin Pegan
Jack Gunston was a very late withdrawal from Hawthorn's flat loss to West Coast with back spasms, and the Hawks will be hoping both him and Jaeger O'Meara (soreness) will be right to take on North Melbourne in Tasmania. Shaun Burgoyne (ankle) will be touch-and-go. Tall forward Emerson Jeka was quiet in his second match, and if the Hawks are looking for a different dimension in attack, Tyler Brockman could be the answer. Dylan Moore was the 23rd man before Gunston's withdrawal so could be squeezed out, while Daniel Howe has been on the fringe of the team of late.
R7 medical sub: Josh Morris (unused)
Verdict: Gunston, O'Meara and Brockman for Moore, Howe and Jeka. - Sarah Black
It will once again be hard for the Demons to change a winning formula after a flawless 8-0 start to the campaign. Casey had the VFL bye last weekend, so Jay Lockhart will return from a quad problem through the reserves this week. Sam Weideman is also likely to continue his return from a pre-season leg injury through the VFL. Expect Jack Viney to be sidelined for a few more weeks with a toe injury.
R8 medical sub: Kade Chandler (unused)
Verdict: No changes for Sunday's clash with the Blues. - Riley Beveridge
The injury list continues to lengthen at the Kangaroos, with Aiden Bonar (ankle), Jaidyn Stephenson (wrist) and Will Walker (thumb) added this week. It could mean a return for Trent Dumont for this Saturday's clash with the Hawks, after the experienced wingman continued his return from a calf problem with 24 disposals and nine tackles in the VFL last weekend. Tristan Xerri was also impressive, winning 26 disposals and 21 hitouts in a big loss to Southport, but it will be hard to force either Todd Goldstein or Tom Campbell out of the senior side. Will Phillips was the medical sub last week, while Bailey Scott and Atu Bosenavulagi were emergencies who didn't travel to Queensland with the VFL team, so expect all three to come into the selection frame for Saturday's trip to Launceston.
R8 medical sub: Will Phillips (replaced Aiden Bonar)
Verdict: Dumont and Phillips to return for Bonar and Stephenson. - Riley Beveridge
The Power should finally have a chance to test highly-rated reserve ruckman Sam Hayes at AFL level after No.1 big man Scott Lycett was referred to the Tribunal for his dangerous tackle on Ned McHenry. Hayes had 40 hit-outs in the SANFL and is ready to go. Peter Ladhams is the other option with more senior experience, mostly as a second ruckman. Riley Bonner (26 disposals and two goals) is the most likely inclusion if gun defender Dan Houston is unavailable, while Jarrod Lienert (28 and nine rebounds) and Trent McKenzie (23 and 11) are making strong cases.
R8 medical substitute: Martin Frederick (replaced Dan Houston)
Verdict: Hayes and Bonner for Lycett and Houston. McKenzie to replace Frederick as sub. - Nathan Schmook
There will be at least two forced changes yet again for Richmond, losing classy duo Shane Edwards (ankle) and Shai Bolton (wrist). The former has at least a month on the sidelines, while Bolton will be out for the next 2-3 weeks after an incident at a nightclub. Dylan Grimes (concussion) should be right for Saturday night's match against GWS, but the key back isn't exactly a straight swap for either midfielder. With Liam Baker already spending considerable time forward, Rhyan Mansell could be the unlucky defensive exclusion. Patrick Naish has now played two games as a sub and is a chance to fill Edwards' spot, while Will Martyn and Hugo Ralphsmith have been in good form in the VFL before last weekend's bye.
R8 medical sub: Patrick Naish (used)
Verdict: Edwards, Bolton and Mansell out for Naish, Ralphsmith and Grimes. - Sarah Black
Seb Ross will return after missing the trip north to face Gold Coast with his wife giving birth to twins. James Frawley is fit and available after a strong week of training during Sandringham's VFL bye. He may be required for extra strength in defence to tackle Geelong's talls. Tom Highmore and Ben Long also travelled last week as emergencies and will be in the frame, along with Luke Dunstan, Shaun McKernan, unused medical sub Jack Lonie and Dean Kent, who is expected to pass concussion tests. Mason Wood was the last man in so will be looked at, while Darragh Joyce, Ryan Byrnes and Jack Bytel remain on the fringe. Paddy Ryder will also be a watch off a six-day break.
R8 medical sub: Jack Lonie (unused)
Verdict: Ross and Frawley for Wood and Joyce. - Mitch Cleary
Isaac Heeney felt soreness in his troublesome right ankle that needed surgery last year and missed the match against Melbourne. The gun forward only joined in light skill sessions at training on Tuesday, so will need to train strongly on Thursday to prove his fitness for the clash with Collingwood. Midfielder-turned-defender George Hewett is available after recovering from concussion, and could replace Colin O’Riordan who was quiet in the loss to the Demons. The Swans’ VFL match against Casey was postponed, so their long list of fit reserves players weren’t able to have a competitive hit-out to press their claims. Ruckman Sam Naismith is a chance to play in the VFL for his first game in almost a year, as he recovers from a ruptured ACL.
R8 medical sub: Nick Blakey (unused)
Verdict: Hewett in for O’Riordan, Gulden moves to medical sub to freshen up, with Blakey into the starting 22. - Martin Pegan
Key defender Tom Barrass is the most likely inclusion this week after pushing hard to return from a shoulder injury against Hawthorn last Sunday. Jeremy McGovern (groin), Liam Ryan (shin) and Shannon Hurn (calf) are all less likely for the clash against Adelaide. Josh Kennedy finished round eight with ice on his right calf and underwent scans. If he misses, the likely move would be to return Oscar Allen to attack and bring Barrass back, retaining Bailey Williams as a forward/ruck. Xavier O'Neill was the standout in the WAFL with 34 disposals, nine tackles and a goal.
R8 medical substitute: Luke Foley (replaced Kennedy)
Verdict: Barrass and O'Neill for Kennedy and Zac Langdon. - Nathan Schmook
Lachie Hunter had hand surgery this week after playing out Sunday's win over Carlton with the break, with the club not yet revealing how long he could be expected to miss. He hasn’t yet been ruled out of this week but will be in doubt given the injury. Stefan Martin's Achilles injury is set to see him miss another week, but Tim English is expected to return. It will be interesting to see if he partners young ruckman Jordon Sweet or replaces him. Rhylee West is a chance to come in for Hunter against Port Adelaide this week, having been the unused medical substitute in round eight. Laitham Vandermeer’s back injury kept him out last week so there will also be a watch on his fitness, while Mitch Wallis, Ben Cavarra and Cody Weightman performed well in the VFL.
R8 medical sub: Rhylee West (unused)
Verdict: English and West for Sweet and Hunter. - Callum Twomey