WHO IS a chance to play in round 20?

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 R20 ins and outs. Check it out.

Defender Nick Murray just has to tick off the final stages of his concussion protocol to be available for Saturday's match against the Western Bulldogs. Another player who has to get through training this week is small forward Lachie Murphy, who tweaked his ankle late in the win over Hawthorn and is a strong chance of maintaining his spot with confirmation of no structural damage. Matt Crouch might need another game or two in the SANFL before being considered for his first senior game of 2021.

R15 medical sub: David Mackay (replaced Lachie Murphy)

Verdict: Murray for Billy Frampton. – Michael Whiting

Adelaide's Nick Murray lies on the ground after falling heavily against West Coast in R18, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

With a win over Gold Coast and no new injuries, you wouldn't expect too many changes for Sunday's game against Hawthorn in Launceston. Nakia Cockatoo was the medical sub against the Suns and now seems like the perfect time to see what the former Cat can do at the top level. Who he could replace is a difficult question. James Madden would be unlucky to be left out, Jarrod Berry still looks rusty or perhaps veteran Grant Birchall would be due a rest, although unlikely in his hometown against his former club.

R15 medical sub: Nakia Cockatoo (unused)

Verdict: Cockatoo for Madden. – Michael Whiting

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VFL Showreel, R15: Cockatoo cool as ever in strong showing

Nakia Cockatoo inches closer and closer to cracking into the Lions' senior side with a very polished performance in the VFL

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Is this the week for Charlie Curnow? All signs point to yes, given the exciting forward pulled up fine following increased minutes in a VFL scratch match last weekend. Harry McKay is likely to again miss due to a toe injury, while Eddie Betts (ankle) and Zac Williams (hamstring) will need to be replaced after suffering injuries during last week's defeat to the Kangaroos. Mitch McGovern is likely to return from a long-term hamstring issue through the VFL, while the club will consider an AFL debut for former first-round pick Brodie Kemp. A host of players, including Matt Owies and Matt Cottrell, are on the fringes of the side. But given the team's lengthy injury list, finding replacements will be difficult. Lachie Fogarty is a chance to return.

R19 medical sub: Marc Murphy (replaced Zac Williams)

Verdict: Curnow to return from two years out of the game, Kemp to be handed an AFL debut and Fogarty to play, with Owies, Betts and Williams going out of the team. - Riley Beveridge

Charlie Curnow at Carlton training on June 21, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Robert Harvey will be forced into at least one change with Scott Pendlebury ruled out for the season with a fractured leg. Jeremy Howe's return will provide a much-needed boost, while Chris Mayne (ankle), Josh Thomas (concussion), Will Hoskin-Elliott (back) and Will Kelly (quad) are available after missing against the Power. Midfielder Brayden Sier will also be in the frame as a like-for-like replacement for Pendlebury along with Tom Wilson and medical sub Mason CoxAnton Tohill was challenged during his debut and would likely make way for Howe, while Jack Ginnivan had seven touches in his first outing. Trent Bianco could be in line for a rest and Caleb Poulter and Nathan Murphy are others who could be looked at. Finlay Macrae impressed on return and should hold his spot. 

R19 medical sub: Mason Cox (replaced Pendlebury)

Verdict: Howe, Mayne, Hoskin-Elliott and Sier for Tohill, Poulter, Bianco and Pendlebury. Another chance for Ginnivan. – Mitch Cleary

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Magpie worry with Pendles limping off

Collingwood have been dealt an injury scare with a sore Scott Pendlebury leaving the field following this incident

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Matt Guelfi was unlucky to be omitted last week and should get a recall inside the starting 22, while Alec Waterman could also be a chance after also being dropped for the clash with the Giants. David Zaharakis returned to the senior line-up last week but had minimal impact while Tom Cutler is another who will be on the fringe of selection. Kyle Langford will have to pass a fitness test, but the Bombers are hopeful he will be able to return from a hamstring injury. Aaron Francis will also be in contention after making his return from personal leave in the VFL last weekend.

R19 medical sub: Matt Guelfi (unused)

Verdict: Langford and Guelfi in for Zaharakis and Cutler. - Callum Twomey

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VFL Showreel, R15: Returning Francis dominates the air

Aaron Francis returns to footy from personal leave and hauls in a number of ripping marks in a very encouraging showing

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Injuries should open the door for first-year midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll to get his first taste at AFL level having pushed close in recent weeks. Young forward Josh Treacy should also return after missing with illness against Sydney. The season is over for Nat Fyfe (shoulder), while Michael Walters (hamstring) could also struggle to return, giving the Dockers a four-week window to prioritise development if they choose. Connor Blakely deserves to play after a season spent regularly as the medical substitute. Blake Acres was impressive at WAFL level with 27 possessions and 11 hitouts. He could return as a back-up ruckman to Lloyd Meek if Sean Darcy needs a rest. Ethan Hughes is available if Alex Pearce is ruled out because of a head knock.

R19 medical substitute: Connor Blakely (replaced Nat Fyfe)

Verdict: O'Driscoll, Treacy and Blakely for Fyfe, Walters and Banfield, with Acres as medical sub. - Nathan Schmook

Connor Blakely gets his kick away during the round 19 clash between Sydney and Fremantle at Metricon Stadium on July 25, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Cats are sweating on the outcome of Gryan Miers' latest scans with fears he has re-injured the leg he fractured earlier in the year. They will also need to weigh up whether to play Joel Selwood off a six-day break with a corked quad that required him to be subbed out against Richmond. Shaun Higgins should be fit to retain his spot after he was a late withdrawal with knee soreness, while medical sub Quinton Narkle shone in his limited game time. Brad Close was meant to be managed before Higgins missed and may need the rest this week. Esava Ratugolea copped a knock to his knee against the Tigers but should be passed fit with the Cats impressed with his output with Jeremy Cameron sidelined. Zach Guthrie and Max Holmes appear next in line. 

R19 medical sub: Quinton Narkle (replaced Selwood)

Verdict: Higgins and Narkle for Miers and Selwood. - Mitch Cleary

Geelong's Shaun Higgins celebrates a goal against Carlton in R17, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Northern Territory product Joel Jeffrey bashed the door down with a stunning nine-goal haul for the Suns' VFL team on the weekend and appears ripe for a debut. Darcy Macpherson was also excellent with 26 touches and 12 tackles, as was Mal Rosas (30 disposals). The Suns might look at recalling veteran Zac Smith to go up against Max Gawn after Brisbane's Oscar McInerney completely dominated in the ruck in last Saturday's QClash.

R15 medical sub: Will Brodie (replaced Oleg Markov)

Verdict: Jeffrey and Smith for Oleg Markov and Rory Atkins. – Michael Whiting

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VFL Showreel, R15: Jeffrey's divine nine steals show

Exciting young Sun Joel Jeffrey produced an epic performance that included nine goals, which is sure to launch him into contention for an AFL recall

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Toby GreeneMatt de BoerKieren Briggs and Jake Stein will be available after completing a period of isolation. Greene will make an immediate return but Briggs could be another valuable addition if veteran Shane Mumford pulls up sore after his enthralling battle with Essendon’s Sam Draper. Stephen Coniglio was a late withdrawal from the team to take on the Bombers due to soreness in his big toe that was operated on earlier this year and needs to get through training this week to be considered. Xavier O’Halloran (12 disposals) turned the ball over a few times and Tanner Bruhn (six) had little impact in that match. Tall forwards Jeremy Finlayson (22 disposals, three goals) and Zach Sproule (27 and two) responded well to being dropped to the VFL.

R19 medical sub: Jake Riccardi (unused)

Verdict: Greene and Coniglio in for O’Halloran and Bruhn. O’Halloran replaces Riccardi as medical sub. - Martin Pegan

Toby Greene celebrates a goal against Melbourne in round 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

James Cousins looks likely to miss after hurting his hamstring against Adelaide. Shaun Burgoyne was the injury sub despite being out managed, and could come out again if the Hawks are keen to give him a rest. Emerson Jeka was a surprise out last week, while Harry Morrison (hamstring) should be available this week.

R19 medical sub: Shaun Burgoyne (used)

Verdict: Morrison for Cousins. – Sarah Black

Hawthorn's Harry Morrison fires off a handball against Sydney in R13, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The question must be asked whether the Demons stick or twist. Tom McDonald and Ben Brown have now played three successive games together, but the side is 1-1-1 in those matches and kicked just nine goals on the weekend. Expect them to be given one more week to find continuity, with Sam Weideman waiting in the wings. Nathan Jones is an outside chance to return from a calf injury, while Tom Sparrow might also be considered having finished his sixth match for the season as an unused substitute on the weekend.

R19 medical sub: Tom Sparrow (unused)

Verdict: No changes, with McDonald and Brown to get one final week to prove themselves. - Riley Beveridge

Ben Brown reacts after the Demons' loss to the Western Bulldogs in round 19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Kangaroos should regain Jack Mahony from a shoulder injury and Robbie Tarrant from a minor adductor problem, with the club taking a cautious approach on both last week due to a six-day break. Tarryn Thomas' hot run of form will unfortunately be placed on pause, as he enters the AFL's 12-day concussion protocols. Will Phillips might also miss, having appeared to break his nose over the weekend. But, given the side's fantastic recent spell, don't expect any unforced changes for Saturday's clash with the Cats. Charlie Comben is knocking down the door, but might need to bide his time.

R19 medical sub: Jared Polec (replaced Will Phillips)

Verdict: Mahony and Tarrant to return for Thomas and Phillips. - Riley Beveridge

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Charlie Comben's sizzling four-goal half in VFL scratch match

After an 18 month layoff, Charlie Comben returns and bags four in half against Brisbane

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Crafty forward Orazio Fantasia is available to return after playing in a practice match involving Western Bulldogs and Melbourne players. The Power now need to decide if that is enough after almost two months on the sidelines following a mid-season arthroscopy. The Power had no fresh injury concerns out of their 28-point win against Collingwood, so could be limited to just the one change if they don't go in with the same 23. Tom Clurey, Jarrod Lienert and Hamish Hartlett are out of the team at the moment and could be called on if there are backline changes.      

R19 medical substitute: Sam Mayes (unused)

Verdict: Fantasia for Woodcock. - Nathan Schmook

Orazio Fantasia celebrates a goal against St Kilda in round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

There's a welcome reinforcement on the way in the form of Dion Prestia (hamstring), while Nathan Broad (ankle) is an outside chance to return after surgery on his syndesmosis joint. Jack Ross could be the one to make way for Prestia, but some juggling would be required to fill the wing role, with maybe Jason Castagna or Liam Baker options.

R19 medical sub: Josh Caddy (unused)

Verdict: Prestia for Ross, while Ryan Garthwaite could make way if Broad is available – Sarah Black

Dion Prestia walks laps at Richmond training on June 29, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Small forward Jack Higgins is in line to return after he missed his third consecutive game against West Coast with his back complaint. Rowan Marshall is also expected to return with his backdated 14-day isolation, that was required after attending a COVID-19 exposure site, to end on Tuesday. Tom Highmore is another consideration one week on from hand surgery and trained on Tuesday with a glove alongside Hunter Clark who could be a left-field option seven weeks after suffering a fractured jaw. Dan McKenzie will be available having missed the Perth trip with concussion and medical sub Cooper Sharman and emergencies Jack Bytel and Jack Lonie remain in the conversation. Ruckman Paul Hunter is likely to fall out, but Paddy Ryder will be a watch off a six-day break into the clash with Carlton. Oscar Clavarino and Leo Connolly's spots could be looked at, while Ben LongDean Kent and Nick Coffield remain on the fringe. Brad Crouch is another to ponder after an underwhelming outing against the Eagles. 

R19 medical sub: Jack Bytel (replaced McKenzie)

Verdict: Marshall, Higgins, Highmore and McKenzie for Hunter, Long, Clavarino and Kent. If fit, Clark in for Connolly. - Mitch Cleary

St Kilda's Rowan Marshall in action during round 18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Swans will have to find a tall forward to fill in for Lance Franklin, who was suspended for a high hit on Fremantle’s Luke Ryan. Sam Reid finished that match with ice on his hamstring but is expected to take on Essendon. Hayden McLean was the unused medical sub last week and played the four matches that Franklin missed earlier in the season, while Joel Amartey was rested from the clash with the Dockers after playing the previous six matches. Logan McDonald was one of nine Swans to play for the Giants’ VFL team and claimed eight marks and 15 disposals, as Ryan Clarke (38 touches) and Dylan Stephens (26) again stood out. Callum MillsHarry CunninghamColin O’Riordan and Callum Sinclair will be available after completing their isolation period. 

R19 medical sub: Hayden McLean (unused)

Verdict: Mills, Cunningham and McLean to replace Bell, Ronke and Franklin with Bell dropping to medical sub. - Martin Pegan

Sydney's Hayden McLean celebrates a goal against Geelong in round seven, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Half-forward Isiah Winder, who last played in round four and had 19 disposals and a goal in the WAFL, is the obvious replacement for injured star Liam Ryan, unless the Eagles want to get creative with roles. They need speed and pressure in the front half, which Winder would bring. Jack Petruccelle (hamstring) is unlikely to be available, with midfielder Jack Redden (leg) the best chance of the injured Eagles to return. Defenders Jackson Nelson (32 disposals, seven clearances and goal in the WAFL), Alex Witherden (25) and Luke Foley are all available, but coach Adam Simpson is keen to settle the team and limit excessive changes week after week. A decision will be needed on the second ruck against Collingwood, with Oscar Allen and Jeremy McGovern sharing the role against St Kilda. Bailey Williams could be called on.

R19 medical substitute: Jarrod Brander (replaced Ryan)

Verdict: Winder and Brander for Ryan and Hutchings – Nathan Schmook

West Coast's Liam Ryan suffered an injury during round 19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photo

The Dogs will have at least two forced changes, with Alex Keath (hamstring) and Ed Richards (concussion) to miss this week's clash with Adelaide. Easton Wood returned from an ankle injury in a scratch match last week and will be a chance to come in, as will Lewis Young if he is passed fit with a minor ankle problem. Josh Dunkley will be available to return after completing his isolation period and Anthony Scott, who was the medical substitute last week, could hold his spot in the starting 22, while Hayden Crozier and Lachie McNeil are others who will be considered. 

R19 medical sub: Anthony Scott (used)

Verdict: Young, Wood and Dunkley to replace Keath, Richards and Roarke Smith.  - Callum Twomey

Easton Wood at Bulldogs training on June 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos