WHO IS a chance to play in round 18?
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 R18 ins and outs. Check it out.
Following a rough loss to Essendon, there are some tough decisions to make for Matthew Nicks and his coaching staff. Defender Tom Doedee (concussion) will miss Sunday's home match against West Coast, while the Crows will keep an eye on wingman Paul Seedsman, who finished the match against Essendon early after suffering from a tight calf. Taylor Walker (neck and chest) is improving and a good chance to return, while Tom Lynch made a strong return through the SANFL at the weekend.
R15 medical sub: Ben Davis (replaced Tom Doedee)
Verdict: Walker, Lynch and Fischer McAsey for Billy Frampton, Ned McHenry and Doedee. – Michael Whiting
There'll be one forced change for the Lions ahead of Friday night's match with Richmond at the MCG and a few other decisions to ponder. With Eric Hipwood (knee) out, his likely replacement will be Tom Fullarton who can play forward and back-up ruck. Ryan Lester made a successful return through the VFL at the weekend and is again available, while Jaxon Prior was a rare shining light in the Lions' heavy loss against Southport. Jarrod Berry (calf) could also come into consideration after missing one match.
R15 medical sub: Rhys Mathieson (replaced Eric Hipwood)
Verdict: Fullarton for Hipwood. – Michael Whiting
The Blues are hopeful that Levi Casboult will return from knee swelling to bolster the side's key position stocks, but Liam Jones is in doubt due to a back injury. Zac Fisher is available, having made his return from an ankle problem through the VFL last week, but Marc Murphy is still sidelined by a minor calf issue. Casboult could return for Will Setterfield, who had little impact after coming into the side as a late inclusion against the Cats. Tom Williamson, also a late inclusion last week, might be replaced for a taller option should Jones prove his fitness.
R17 medical sub: Matt Cottrell (unused)
Verdict: Casboult to replace Setterfield, with Jones to come into the side for Williamson should he pass a late fitness test. - Riley Beveridge
Robert Harvey will have at least one forced change with Will Kelly injuring his quad in the win over Richmond. Mason Cox kicked two goals in the VFL after being dropped, while rookie Jack Ginnivan kicked four majors and now has 11 in three weeks as he presses for a debut. Young wingman Caleb Poulter is available after being managed against the Tigers, while Max Lynch was again strong in the VFL and could force a scenario where he plays alongside Brodie Grundy. Brayden Sier (30 disposals) and Finlay Macrae (24) got plenty of ball, while medical sub Trey Ruscoe, Jay Rantall and Tom Wilson will again be in the frame. The Pies could also consider a rest for Trent Bianco, while Ollie Henry showed glimpses against the Tigers but was overall quiet.
R17 medical sub: Trey Ruscoe (replaced Kelly)
Verdict: Ginnivan and Poulter for Kelly and Bianco. – Mitch Cleary
The Bombers are hopeful of regaining Dyson Heppell from his thumb injury after missing last week's win over Adelaide. He could replace Martin Gleeson, who came into the senior side last week to play off half-back and was solid in his first game since round two. Kyle Langford will be out for several weeks after a hamstring strain, and Brayden Ham, who came into the game against the Crows for the final quarter, should come into the starting 22. Ham had 36 disposals and two goals in the VFL, while Sam Durham (19 disposals) and Tom Hird (three goals) were others to play well.
R16 medical sub: Brayden Ham (used)
Verdict: Heppell, Ham in for Gleeson, Langford. – Callum Twomey
The Dockers look settled and are coming off one of their most complete performances of the season, which points to minimal changes for a Thursday night clash against Geelong. There is still pressure coming from below, with classy defender Hayden Young returning through the WAFL. It would be a risk to bring him back following a long-term hamstring injury and coming off a five-day break, but the No.7 draft pick is part of the Dockers' best 22 and it won't be long until he returns. Tough defender Ethan Hughes played his first game back from a shoulder injury in the WAFL and might be a better option if there are changes, while midfielder Luke Valente (20 disposals and three goals in the WAFL) is putting together consistent form. Whoever misses will be unlucky, but a hardened inclusion against the experienced Cats could be a good move.
R17 medical sub: Connor Blakely (unused)
Verdict: Hughes for Brandon Walker – Nathan Schmook
Newly re-signed skipper Joel Selwood will be fresh and ready to return against the Dockers after he was managed in the win over Carlton. The Cats will also need to make a decision on Luke Dahlhaus after he was managed, but Gary Rohan could be in for a rest with a five-day break coming after he finished the match against the Blues on the bench with a corked leg. Max Holmes didn't look out of place but could make way, while Brandan Parfitt played 61 per cent of game time. Veterans Lachie Henderson and Isaac Smith may also need a breather, but Shaun Higgins impressed and had a break a fortnight ago. Medical sub Quinton Narkle, Francis Evans, Zach Guthrie and Charlie Constable look to be next in line should there be wholesale changes.
R17 medical sub: Quinton Narkle (unused)
Verdict: Selwood and Dahlhaus for Holmes and Rohan. - Mitch Cleary
Two wins in a row for the Suns means it's unlikely there'll be many changes for Saturday's match against the Western Bulldogs at Metricon Stadium. Midfielder Hugh Greenwood dodged an ACL rupture, but will still miss the rest of the season with an MCL tear. Noah Anderson has recovered quicker than expected from a broken hand and is in line for a return, while Will Brodie continued to put pressure on with 30 disposals in the VFL. Josh Corbett (concussion) is available after missing a week and could be an option if the Suns want a taller forward line.R15 medical sub: Rory Atkins (replaced Hugh Greenwood)
Verdict: Anderson for Greenwood. – Michael Whiting
Captain Stephen Coniglio is ready to return after leading from the front with 36 disposals, 11 clearances and eight tackles in his second VFL outing since recovering from injury. Matt de Boer (35 disposals, three goals) and prized draftee Tanner Bruhn (29 touches, two goals) also pressed their claims. The Giants will be without Lachie Whitfield for the Sydney derby after he copped a knock to the head against the Suns and showed delayed concussion symptoms. Veteran ruckman Shane Mumford has played the past two matches but the Giants will hope he can line up in a third consecutive match for the first time this season. Young rucks Matt Flynn (12 disposals, 28 hitouts) and Kieren Briggs (nine touches, 29 hitouts) dominated in the reserves and could step in again. Key forwards Zach Sproule (five goals) and Jake Riccardi (three goals) also impressed in the VFL.
R17 medical sub: Jeremy Finlayson (replaced Lachie Whitfield)
Verdict: Coniglio, de Boer, Bruhn in for Whitfield, Finlayson, Sam Reid. - Martin Pegan
Star defender Changkuoth Jiath will miss with a PCL injury suffered against the Dockers, while it remains to be seen if Jack Scrimshaw will be ruled out with concussion, having battled a migraine then a head knock. Blake Hardwick was a late withdrawal from the squad with hamstring tightness. Box Hill played a scratch match against a combined Carlton/North Melbourne side, seeing Mitch Lewis make his return from a month sidelined by concussion.
R17 medical sub: Ollie Hanrahan (used)
Verdict: Hardwick and Josh Morris for Scrimshaw and Jiath. – Sarah Black
The Demons found their rhythm in attack against the Power last Thursday night, so expect Ben Brown to hold his place in the side even though he was held scoreless. Sam Weideman continues to impress in the VFL, kicking three goals from 18 disposals and seven marks last week, but he might need to bide his time as a result of Brown's recent return. Nathan Jones is likely to still be sidelined by a calf injury.
R17 medical sub: Tom Sparrow (unused)
Verdict: No change ahead of Saturday's clash with the Hawks. - Riley Beveridge
The Kangaroos have options up their sleeve, with Jared Polec returning to full fitness and with more names set to make their comebacks from injury imminently. Aiden Bonar is likely to play VFL this weekend after recovering from an ankle injury, Taylor Garner is just one week away from rehabbing his own ankle issue, Dom Tyson is closing on a return following a calf injury, while uncapped youngster Phoenix Spicer is also on the cusp of recovering from a hamstring problem. However, whether David Noble makes any changes following a stirring win over the Eagles is another question altogether. Expect this suddenly in-form and exciting young side to get some momentum under its belt.
R17 medical sub: Charlie Lazzaro (unused)
Verdict: No changes for Sunday's clash with the Bombers. - Riley Beveridge
There's plenty for the Power to consider at the selection table, starting with another injury to young star Zak Butters (knee). Ensuring they can handle St Kilda's in-form ruck duo will also be on their mind, while run off half-back and polish with the ball were areas lacking against Melbourne. Ruck/forward Peter Ladhams (two goals in the SANFL) is a likely inclusion for his first game since round 14 to support Scott Lycett, while Sam Hayes remains a developing option in the SANFL as he waits to make his debut. Options to replace Butters are thin. Medical substitute Martin Frederick is a chance and would provide dash, with Riley Bonner (30 disposals and a goal in the SANFL) having been in and out of the senior team. Hamish Hartlett laid a massive 15 tackles and had 17 disposals in the SANFL to push his case, but it is hard to see where he would fit at the moment. Xavier Duursma returned in the SANFL after more than three months on the sidelines, and the Power would be desperate for his run. But another week in the state league appears likely.
R17 medical sub: Martin Frederick (replaced Zak Butters)
Verdict: Ladhams and Frederick for Marshall and Butters. – Nathan Schmook
A rare injury-free game for Richmond, but coach Damien Hardwick said the side is unlikely to regain any players. They remain cautious with Toby Nankervis' nagging PCL injury, as well as the injuries of Nick Vlastuin (knee) and Shane Edwards (ankle). Noah Cumberland had a breakout performance in the VFL with five goals, Josh Caddy had 39 touches but curiously wasn't named in the best by the club, while Will Martyn had 31 and 13 tackles.
R17 medical sub: Jack Ross (unused)
Verdict: Martyn for a somewhat quiet Thomson Dow, and if fit, Nankervis for Mabior Chol. – Sarah Black
Dean Kent's spot will be looked at after he was a late inclusion in the win over Brisbane with Mason Wood removed with hamstring tightness that rule him out for a month. Leo Connolly is also on the fringe after two games, but it appears a hard side to break into otherwise with Zak Jones returning strongly last week. Josh Battle has spent two weeks as a sub and will be considered, however Jack Higgins will miss another week with his back complaint. Jack Lonie kicked five goals in a comprehensive VFL win as Jack Bytel (37 disposals) dominated in the midfield and James Frawley returned from injury.
R17 medical sub: Josh Battle (unused)
Verdict: Battle for Kent. - Mitch Cleary
The Swans are in fantastic form and have continued their fortunate run with injury so should again make few changes. Logan McDonald has now joined up with the squad in Victoria and starred in the VFL with 18 disposals and 14 marks. Last year's No.4 draft pick also kicked 4.3 to push for a first senior match since the bye. Joel Amartey will feel pressure on his spot after a second quiet game in his past three, although the Swans like his flexibility to play forward and in the ruck. James Bell (nine disposals) will also be looking over his shoulder, especially with midfielders Ryan Clarke (32) and James Rowbottom (22) winning plenty of the ball in the VFL.
R17 medical sub: Colin O'Riordan (unused)
Verdict: Rowbottom into the starting 22 for Bell who replaces O'Riordan as medical sub. - Martin Pegan
The Eagles need change after a third straight loss and Adam Simpson declared there would be no "free rides" for out-of-form players. There are senior players not delivering, with Jack Darling booting one goal in a month and Jeremy McGovern failing to rediscover his best form after a knee injury and impact in the air. Changes on the fringe are more likely, however, and mid-season recruit Connor West (33 disposals in the WAFL) appears a likely inclusion in the midfield. Young defender Harry Edwards is among the most promising young players at the club, while Luke Edwards, Luke Foley and Xavier O'Neill are waiting for opportunities. How deep the Eagles cut will indicate their approach for the final six rounds. They have made at least five changes in each of their past three games, and Simpson is keen to settle the team. Whether he settles it with youth or experience will be telling.
R17 medical sub: Luke Edwards (unused)
Verdict: West, Foley, L.Edwards for Jamie Cripps, Jackson Nelson, Brendon Ah Chee – Nathan Schmook
Josh Dunkley is available for selection after recovering from shoulder surgery so the question for the Dogs will be whether he's straight in to the AFL or comes back through the VFL. Aaron Naughton faces a test to return after his concussion but is obviously an immediate inclusion if available. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan made his much-anticipated debut last week but would likely make way for Naughton if he is ready to return to face the Suns this week, while Mitch Wallis or Anthony Scott could make way for Dunkley.
R16 medical sub: Lachie McNeil (unused)
Verdict: Dunkley, Naughton in for Ugle-Hagan, Wallis. – Callum Twomey