A TOE injury to Carlton star Harry McKay has thrown the Coleman Medal race wide open.
McKay missed last Saturday's defeat to North Melbourne and remains in significant doubt to return ahead of this weekend's clash with St Kilda, giving a five-man chasing pack the perfect opportunity to continue reducing the gap.
Adelaide veteran Taylor Walker slashed the deficit to just six goals on the weekend, while reigning champ Tom Hawkins, three-time winner Jack Riewoldt and emerging frontrunners Josh Bruce and Ben King are also still in contention.
Should McKay return, the Blues youngster is on track to finish with 67 goals. That would put him in similar territory with former winners like Jeremy Cameron (67 goals in 2019), Riewoldt (65 goals in 2018) and Lance Franklin (69 goals in 2017).
But can anyone catch him? Here's what the form guide suggests.
Harry McKay (Carlton) – 52 GOALS
Run home: St Kilda, Gold Coast, Port Adelaide, GWS Giants
McKay's chances could rest on whether he returns from a toe injury this weekend. He had been in relatively good form over the previous five weeks, adding 14 goals to his tally, but a tough run home lies in wait. McKay kicked only one goal earlier in the season against round 22 opponents Port Adelaide, while he's only kicked two goals from four games in his career against St Kilda. With a six-goal lead, the 23-year-old remains the firm favourite.
Taylor Walker (Adelaide) – 46 GOALS
Run home: Western Bulldogs, Port Adelaide, Melbourne, North Melbourne
A four-goal haul against Hawthorn last weekend keeps Walker in touch with McKay and also saw the veteran return to form, having failed to kick multiple goals in three of his previous four matches. Walker was held goalless against round 21 opponents Port Adelaide earlier this season and can't afford for that to happen again if he's to claim his first ever Coleman Medal. Having started the season with 17 goals from his first three matches, the 31-year-old will need to repeat those efforts to finish the year.
Tom Hawkins (Geelong) – 45 GOALS
Run home: North Melbourne, GWS Giants, St Kilda, Melbourne
The reigning Coleman Medal winner, Hawkins could be the player to watch from the chasing pack. He has kicked a bag of six goals and had multiple four-goal games in his last month, putting him in prime position to close the seven-goal deficit to McKay. Hawkins only managed one major the last time he played round 20 opponents North Melbourne, but that hasn't happened too often this season. He's in form, is winning the lion's share of targets in the absence of Jeremy Cameron and could be ready to hunt his second Coleman Medal.
Jack Riewoldt (Richmond) – 44 GOALS
Run home: Fremantle, North Melbourne, GWS Giants, Hawthorn
Riewoldt has experience on his side, having claimed the Coleman Medal in 2010, 2012 and 2018. In the last of those years, he kicked five goals in the final round to storm home, so never rule him out. Riewoldt only kicked one goal against round 22 opponents Greater Western Sydney earlier this season, but added four earlier in the year against round 23 foes Hawthorn. It leaves him in a good position to potentially make up an eight-goal deficit to McKay.
Josh Bruce (Western Bulldogs) – 43 GOALS
Run home: Adelaide, Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide
Unfortunately for Bruce's chances, the Western Bulldogs won't be playing his whipping boys North Melbourne in its last month. However, the club will playing Essendon – who Bruce has kicked the second-most goals against throughout his entire career. But for Bruce to claim an unlikely Coleman Medal, he will need to improve his output against round 23 opponents Port Adelaide. Has kicked only five goals from eight games against the Power throughout his 10-year stint in the League.
Ben King (Gold Coast) – 43 GOALS
Run home: Melbourne, Carlton, Essendon, Sydney
The youngest player in the Coleman Medal hunt, the 21-year-old King will need a few things to fall his way if he's to make up the nine-goal deficit to McKay. King kicked just one goal against round 21 opponents Carlton, but could finish strong if a five-goal haul earlier this year against round 23 foes Sydney has anything to do with it. King has been held goalless in three of his last seven matches, suggesting a slight drop-off, so he will need to improve his output heading into the final month.