WHO IS a chance to play in round 21?

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 R21 ins and outs. Check it out.

The Crows had an injury scare with half-back Chayce Jones ahead of Saturday's Showdown at Adelaide Oval after he suffered a significant corked quad against the Western Bulldogs. He is expected to train later in the week, but if Jones is unavailable, the safe move would be to return Brodie Smith to half-back from the wing and possibly include Lachie Sholl, who was dropped last week. With no SANFL games for a couple of weeks, there's been little chance to impress.

R15 medical sub: David Mackay (replaced Chayce Jones)

Verdict: Unchanged. - Michael Whiting

Adelaide's Lachie Sholl in action against Brisbane in R16, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

No new injuries for the Lions following Sunday's loss to Hawthorn, but some form concerns heading into the round 21 clash with Fremantle. Jarrod Berry has battled in two games since his return, while veteran Grant Birchall is struggling to impact with his ball use from defence. With no VFL game to impress, the candidates putting their hands up include Deven Robertson, omitted last week, Jaxon Prior and Tom Berry. Chris Fagan is fiercely loyal, but will three losses in four weeks test his patience?

R15 medical sub: Keidean Coleman (unused)

Verdict: Robertson for Birchall, with Callum Ah Chee to shuffle back to defence. - Michael Whiting

Brisbane's Deven Robertson kicks the ball against Geelong in R15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues are hopeful that Mitch McGovern will play at AFL level against the Suns this week, having returned from a three-month hamstring layoff with two goals from 15 disposals and six marks in the reserves. He could be the ideal replacement for ruckman Tom De Koning, who injured his chest during last week's win over the Saints. That would mean Jack Silvagni deputises as the club's No.1 ruckman once again. Eddie Betts (ankle) and Levi Casboult (knee) remain touch-and-go. Sam Petrevski-Seton (30 disposals, one goal) and Lachie Fogarty (27 disposals, 12 tackles) were among the best in the VFL. If Betts isn't fit, expect one of them to take the role of Matt Owies. He has been held goalless in three of his past four games.

R20 medical sub: Marc Murphy (replaced Tom De Koning)

Verdict: McGovern to replace De Koning, with Betts to come in for Owies should he pass a fitness test later this week. Fogarty will be on standby if the veteran doesn't play. - Riley Beveridge

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VFL Showreel, R16: Marking McGovern back and flying

In a welcome sight for Blues fans, Mitch McGovern produced an eye-catching aerial show in his return to footy

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There was little to fault in the big win over West Coast so spots will be hard to come by against Hawthorn in Launceston. Tom Wilson impressed in the VFL on the weekend but has a tough ask breaking in given the recent form of Trey Ruscoe in defence. Beau McCreery is pushing to play after a recent hamstring strain, while medical sub Nathan Murphy will be in the frame along with Caleb PoulterJay RantallMason Cox and the uncapped Reef McInnesJosh Daicos is also a possibility to return from a finger injury and will be assessed at training. Finlay Macrae remains on the fringe but has had a solid fortnight, while fellow youngsters Jack Ginnivan and Trent Bianco could be looked at. 

R20 medical sub: Nathan Murphy (unused)

Verdict: Unchanged with Ginnivan picked over McCreery for one more week. - Mitch Cleary

Collingwood's Beau McCreery on crutches after the R15 game against Fremantle. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bombers will need to make at least two changes for their clash with the Western Bulldogs with captain Dyson Heppell (thumb) and midfielder Kyle Langford (hamstring) ruled out with injury. Brayden Ham was the medical substitute and came onto the ground in the dying moments in Sunday's loss to Sydney so should come into the starting 22, while Matt Guelfi, Alec Waterman, David Zaharakis and Cale Hooker will also come under consideration. 

R20 medical sub: Brayden Ham (used)

Verdict: Ham, Guelfi in for Heppell, Langford. - Callum Twomey

Essendon medical sub Brayden Ham looks on from the bench against Sydney in R20, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Forward Bailey Banfield (concussion) is the only forced omission from a team that had few passengers against Richmond on Sunday. He could be replaced simply by returning key defender Alex Pearce, who has served his concussion protocol, and shuffling other positions. The Dockers are in quarantine and don't have WAFL form to draw on, but others available for selection include Ethan HughesBrett Bewley and Blake Acres. First-year midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll has been an emergency in recent weeks and is close to making his debut. Regular medical substitute Connor Blakely was good against the Tigers and deserves a full game on that performance, having gone a long way to improving his ball use. 

R20 medical sub: Connor Blakely (replaced Bailey Banfield)  

Verdict: Pearce and Blakely for Banfield and Watson. - Nathan Schmook

Fremantle's Alex Pearce chases the ball against Geelong in R18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Lachie Henderson (calf), Tom Atkins (back) and Mark O'Connor (knee) all missed the clash against North Melbourne and will be watches on the injury front at main training on Wednesday. Late inclusion Zach Guthrie impressed in his first game in two months but will be in a fight to keep his spot along with debutant Nathan Kreuger who didn't look out of place at the top level. Quinton Narkle remains on the fringe, while the six-day break could present an option to rest a player such as Brad CloseZach TuohyJake Kolodjashnij or Brandan Parfitt. Medical sub Jordan Clark and first-year midfielder Max Holmes would be next in line if wholesale changes are required. 

R20 medical sub: Jordan Clark (unused)

Verdict: Pending fitness, Henderson, Atkins and O'Connor for Kreuger, Narkle and one of Tuohy or Kolodjhasnij. - Mitch Cleary

Geelong's Tom Atkins handballs against Richmond in R19, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

After being destroyed by Melbourne at the weekend, it's hard to not see a change or two for Saturday's match against Carlton, but do the Suns have the cattle to bring in? Brandon Ellis has overcome a hamstring injury, while Sam Day played 10 minutes in the VFL before the match was cancelled, but that might not be enough to prove he has overcome a foot problem. Rory Atkins was omitted last week and would still be in the frame. Zac Smith and Jack Bowes struggled against the Dees, while youngster Sam Flanders could possibly do with a rest after a string of strong performances.

R15 medical sub: Will Brodie (unused)

Verdict: Ellis and Atkins for Flanders (rested for a week) and Bowes. - Michael Whiting

Brandon Ellis looks on at a Gold Coast training session on July 22, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

The Giants will enter their crucial clash with the Cats without gun midfielder Jacob Hopper and veteran defender Phil Davis after both sustained concussions in the loss to Port Adelaide. Daniel Lloyd and Sam Reid were both helped from the field with ankle issues but were able to play out that match. Captain Stephen Coniglio missed the past two matches with soreness in the big toe he had rebuilt earlier this year but might need to be recalled, while Adam Kennedy could return after missing last week with a minor hamstring injury and Matt de Boer is another option to bolster the midfield. Shane Mumford has battled hard under duress in recent weeks but is set to be rested and replaced by young ruck Kieren Briggs or perhaps a tall forward like Jeremy Finlayson or Zach Sproule.

R20 medical sub: Tanner Bruhn (replaced Phil Davis)

Verdict: Briggs, de Boer and Kennedy in for Mumford, Hopper and Davis. - Martin Pegan

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Hopper stretchered off after copping kick to the face

Jacob Hopper has been stretchered off the ground after copping Karl Amon's boot to his face in an attempted smother

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Luke Breust has escaped structural damage to his knee but will miss at least this week's clash against Collingwood with bone bruising. Jacob Koschitzke was rested for the win over Brisbane, while Harry Morrison (hamstring) made his return through the VFL. Emerson Jeka booted four in the twos, with Josh Morris and Ollie Hanrahan named in the best.

R20 medical sub: Damon Greaves (replaced Luke Breust)

Verdict: Koschitzke for Breust. - Sarah Black

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Double knee blow with Breust and Payne hobbling off

Hawthorn's Luke Breust and Brisbane's Jack Payne both flew for a mark in front of Hawks' goal and both came off with knee injuries in the process

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The Demons might have to make two enforced changes for this week's trip to play the Eagles, after Tom McDonald hurt his back and Jack Viney was referred directly to the AFL Tribunal for a nasty off-the-ball incident. But neither have categorically been ruled out just yet. Sam Weideman will be on standby for McDonald, who was substituted out of Sunday's win over the Suns. The man who replaced him during that game, James Jordon, would be a likely replacement for Viney. However, veteran Nathan Jones finished with 29 disposals and one goal in the VFL last week and could come into the 23-man playing group.

R20 medical sub: James Jordon (replaced Tom McDonald)

Verdict: Jordon to replace Viney, should he earn a suspension at the Tribunal on Tuesday night. Weideman to replace McDonald, should he fail to prove his fitness. - Riley Beveridge

01:20 Mins
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VFL Showreel, R16: Nathan Jones not done just yet

Nathan Jones was Casey's best player in the VFL, racking up 29 touches and booting a goal

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The Kangaroos should be bolstered by the return of Tarryn Thomas (concussion) and Cam Zurhaar (shoulder) for this week's clash with the Tigers. Aiden Bonar also continued his recovery from an ankle injury with 19 disposals and six marks in the VFL last weekend. Charlie Lazzaro was also promising in that reserves fixture, winning 24 disposals and kicking one goal. Jack Mahony was quiet during last week's loss to the Cats, finishing with just eight disposals, while Jared Polec remains on the fringes of the best team. Atu Bosenavulagi might make way down back, should David Noble elect for more height to accommodate for Bonar's return. Expect youngster Eddie Ford to hold his spot, with Charlie Comben also likely to enter the discussion for an AFL debut in the coming weeks.

R20 medical sub: Shaun Atley (unused)

Verdict: Thomas, Zurhaar and Bonar to replace Polec, Mahony and Bosenavulagi. - Riley Beveridge

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VFL Showreel, R16: Lazzaro's dashing show

Exciting young Roo Charlie Lazzaro looks like he has a bright future ahead after a composed, hard-running performance in the VFL

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The Power are getting closer to their best available team and are now looking to those who have returned from injury to rediscover their best form. With Robbie Gray (knee) not yet ready to return, it wouldn't surprise to see them go into Saturday night's Showdown unchanged. Defender Tom Clurey is out of the team and would be a good inclusion against Taylor Walker and a tall Adelaide forward line. Who makes way for him is the difficult question for Port to answer. Midfielder/forward Sam Powell-Pepper is searching for better form and could be vulnerable after just eight disposals against Greater Western Sydney. There will be change when Gray returns, but look for Port to back in the team that beat the Giants by 27 points, with a top-four spot in their sights.  

R20 medical sub: Boyd Woodcock (unused)  

Verdict: Unchanged. - Nathan Schmook

Port Adelaide's Sam Powell-Pepper in action against GWS in R20, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Important defender Nathan Broad (syndesmosis) didn't quite get up in time for last week, while Nick Vlastuin (knee/quad cork), Kamdyn McIntosh (hamstring) and Bachar Houli (ankle) are all close to a return. Josh Caddy has now been the sub for two weeks, while Noah Cumberland and Hugo Ralphsmith kicked three each in the VFL. Jake Aarts (six disposals) has kicked three goals in his past nine matches, while Ryan Garthwaite looms as the first defensive option out of the side.

R20 medical sub: Josh Caddy (unused)

Verdict: Broad and Ralphsmith for Garthwaite and Aarts. - Sarah Black

Richmond's Nathan Broad handballs against West Coast in R13, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

All eyes will be on Paddy Ryder after he was a late out against Carlton with Achilles soreness. Saturday night's clash with Sydney falls 14 days after his last game so the Saints will be hopeful he's fit to partner Rowan Marshall. Hunter Clark will miss through concussion, while Dougal Howard has suffered a hamstring setback. Paul Hunter would fall out if Ryder is passed fit, while Ben Long and Dean Kent remain on the fringe and Leo Connolly could be due a rest. Dan McKenzie remains a watch having missed two games with concussion, while Jack Sinclair will be pushing to play after his low-grade hamstring strain against West Coast. Medical sub Cooper Sharman will be vying for a starting spot alongside Jack Bytel, Oscar Clavarino and Nick Coffield

R20 medical sub: Cooper Sharman (replaced Howard)

Verdict: Ryder, Clavarino and Coffield for Hunter, Howard and Clark. If fit, Sinclair and McKenzie for Connolly and Long. - Mitch Cleary

St Kilda's Paddy Ryder kicks the ball against West Coast in R19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Swans' charmed run with injuries continued in the exhilarating win over Essendon and the VFL team had its match cancelled when the club returned to Melbourne late last week, so it has been difficult for the reserves players to press their claims. James Bell had another quiet game and gathered only four disposals so looks the player under most pressure to hold his spot with Dylan Stephens and James Rowbottom at the front of the long queue to replace him.

R20 medical sub: Dylan Stephens (unused)

Verdict: Rowbottom in for Bell who moves to medical sub. - Martin Pegan

Sydney's James Rowbottom handballs during the R15 clash with Port Adelaide in 2021. Picture: Getty Images

It is possible the Eagles have left it too late to make bold selection calls with their senior players three weeks out from finals, despite their disappointing form. Coach Adam Simpson has cited credits in the bank for his underperforming stars but also declared this week that no one has a "gold pass forever". Captain Luke Shuey is close to returning from a calf injury, with key defender Tom Barrass also in the mix after a hamstring strain. The nine-day break will help both, who are automatic inclusions if fit. If the match committee has run out of patience and wants further change, Jarrod Brander (33 disposals and 13 marks) and Alex Witherden (40 and 11) made strong cases at WAFL level, as did Jackson Nelson (24 and a goal) and Luke Foley (19 and a goal). The form of both Oscar Allen and Jack Darling is a major concern, but they are also victims of an underperforming midfield and forward options are limited. 

R20 medical sub: Mark Hutchings (unused) 

Verdict: Barrass and Shuey for Harry Edwards and Xavier O'Neill. Brander comes in if Shuey is not fit. - Nathan Schmook

West Coast's Tom Barrass handballs against Western Bulldogs in R15, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

It's a big week at the selection table for the Bulldogs as they weigh bringing Adam Treloar back for vital matches in the run into the finals. The midfield recruit is expected to be available after his long injury layoff. Taylor Duryea was managed last week but should be right to go against Essendon, while the club also expects Ed Richards (concussion) to be available. 

R20 medical sub: Patrick Lipinski (unused)

Verdict: Treloar, Duryea in for Roarke Smith, Jason Johannisen. - Callum Twomey

Adam Treloar walks from Marvel Stadium in a moon boot in round 10, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos