WHO IS a chance to play in round 23?

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 R23 ins and outs. Check it out

Veteran Brodie Smith and young defender Will Hamill are both expected to return from the concussion protocol for the Crows' final round against North Melbourne. Elliott Himmelberg (hamstring) was injured against Melbourne, which could send Tom Lynch to a permanent forward role in his final game for the club to accommodate Smith on the wing. James Rowe was excellent in the SANFL at the weekend.

R22 medical sub: Lachie Sholl (replaced Elliott Himmelberg)

Verdict: Smith and Hamill for Himmelberg and Ben Davis. – Michael Whiting

Adelaide's Brodie Smith leaves the field against Port Adelaide in R21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Powerful defender Marcus Adams is available after missing five matches with a foot injury. Mitch Robinson (calf) is also expected to return against West Coast on Saturday, meaning there will be a couple of unlucky omissions for a team back in form. Keidean Coleman has been a new addition to defence, while Ryan Lester has been playing on taller forwards and could be vulnerable with Adams' return. It all comes down to backline balance for Brisbane's coaching staff.

R22 medical sub: Rhys Mathieson (unused)

Verdict: Adams and Robinson for Coleman and Jaxon Prior. – Michael Whiting

Brisbane defender Marcus Adams after the loss to Melbourne in round 12, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Who is left for the Blues? The club expects co-captain Patrick Cripps to return from a tight quad, but the injury list beyond that is extensive. Will Setterfield is in the mix to play following a groin injury, but Jack Martin (hamstring), Jack Silvagni (hip) and Zac Williams (hamstring) will miss the final week. Marc Murphy will also go out of the team, having announced that last week's clash against Port Adelaide would be his last. Expect debutants Brodie Kemp and Corey Durdin to retain their place in the side. Eddie Betts is a guaranteed starter for his 350th and final match, as is Levi Casboult in what will be his last game for the club.

R23 medical sub: Sam Petrevski-Seton (unused)

Verdict: Cripps to replace Murphy. – Riley Beveridge

Carlton stars Eddie Betts and Patrick Cripps after the R3 win over Fremantle. Picture: AFL Photos

The Pies have accepted Brody Mihocek's one-week ban so he'll miss the date with Essendon, while Trey Ruscoe is unlikely to play with significant ankle swelling. Jeremy Howe will be able to return after not flying north with his wife pregnant and John Noble should also be in the frame after starting the heavy defeat to the Lions as the sub. Nathan Murphy remains on the fringe, while Trent Bianco and Beau McCreery were quiet against Brisbane and Finlay Macrae faces a test with an ankle concern. Reef McInnes will also be eyeing a debut after being an emergency last week, with Max Lynch or Will Kelly in the frame to replace Mihocek in attack. 

R22 medical sub: John Noble (replaced Trey Ruscoe)

Verdict: Howe, McInnes and Kelly for Ruscoe, Murphy and Mihocek. – Mitch Cleary

Reef McInnes is tackled by Steele Sidebottom at Collingwood training on August 6, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

The Bombers have won two on the trot and can lock in a finals spot by beating Collingwood this weekend. Kyle Langford is making his way back from a hamstring injury and the club won't rush him back after a recent reoccurrence of the strain but they could recall Nik Cox after he was rested last week, while substitute Martin Gleeson and midfielder Brayden Ham would also be in the mix. Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was left out last week to have a 'reset' that might be focused more on the first week of the finals if the Bombers get there. Could Cale Hooker get a farewell game after announcing his retirement? 

R22 medical sub: Martin Gleeson (unused)

Verdict: Cox in for Alec Waterman. – Callum Twomey

Essendon's Nik Cox in action against GWS in R19, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Selection shapes as a clear-cut discussion for the Dockers this week. Midfielder Andrew Brayshaw has served his one-match suspension and is an automatic inclusion, with Connor Blakely making way after suffering a hamstring injury. A strong team performance should otherwise be rewarded. Young midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll has been pushing to debut, while wingman Brett Bewley is available if there are more changes.  

R22 medical substitute: Brett Bewley (replaced Connor Blakely) 

Verdict: Brayshaw for Blakely. - Nathan Schmook 

Fremantle's Andrew Brayshaw celebrates a goal against Carlton in R16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Gary Rohan should be ready to return after sitting out the win over St Kilda with a hip concern, so it leaves a question mark on what the Cats do with their forward set-up. Esava Ratugolea had three disposals against the Saints so would be the likely one to fall out against Melbourne. Medical sub Quinton Narkle remains around the mark, while Gryan Miers will be touch-and-go having recovered from his recent leg fracture, leaving Sam Simpson and Max Holmes' spots up for consideration. Tom Atkins faces another fitness test with his back complaint and if fit could take Zach Guthrie's spot in defence or slot in if Mark O'Connor is required to tag in the midfield. Given the Cats' level of experience combined with the pre-finals bye being scrapped, resting a player or two is also a strong possibility. 

R22 medical sub: Quinton Narkle (unused)

Verdict: Rohan and Narkle for Ratugolea and Holmes. If fit, Atkins to take Narkle's spot. - Mitch Cleary

Zach Tuohy and Gary Rohan on the bench during the Cats' loss to the Giants in round 21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

A couple of injury concerns out of Sunday's loss to Essendon will be monitored through the week and may force a change or two for the Suns' final game against Sydney. Jack Bowes has a tight hamstring and seems unlikely to play off a six-day turnaround, while Sean Lemmens' corked leg leaves him in doubt, but still in the frame. In what could be his final season, original Sun Jarrod Harbrow would be a perfect option to replace either in the backline, while Rory Atkins could also be considered with his versatility.

R22 medical sub: Rory Atkins (replaced Sean Lemmens)

Verdict: Harbrow for Bowes. – Michael Whiting

Jarrod Harbrow in action for Gold Coast in the VFL in R15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

After a tough run with injuries, the Giants' list is now looking fitter and healthier and there is strong competition for places in an in-form team. Toby Greene will return from suspension and captain Stephen Coniglio is available after recovering from toe soreness and playing in a VFL scratch match last Friday. Veteran Sam Reid also played in that match and will put his hand up for selection, as will Phil Davis and Bobby Hill who were overlooked last week. Jake Stein has been solid in defence, Zach Sproule offers useful ruck support and mid-season draftee James Peatling has impressed in his three matches but the trio could make way for more experienced teammates. 

R22 medical sub: Jake Riccardi (unused)

Verdict: Greene, Coniglio and Davis in for Sproule, Peatling and Stein. - Martin Pegan

Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene after Greater Western Sydney's win over Geelong in R21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Jaeger O'Meara(knee soreness) is likely to return after the short turnaround between games cost him, while James Worpel (toe) was another late withdrawal before the surprise win over the Bulldogs. It'll be tough to change a winning formula, but second-gamer Connor Downie (12 disposals) and Harry Morrison could be the ones to make way if one of the more senior players are brought back.

R22 medical sub: Josh Morris (unused)

Verdict: O'Meara and Worpel for Downie and Morrison. – Sarah Black

Hawthorn's Jaeger O'Meara in action against Adelaide in R19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Demons should be bolstered even further as they look to lock up the minor premiership against the Cats. Steven May should return from soreness, Tom McDonald is expected to feature following a back issue, while Jack Viney will also be added to the side having served his two-match suspension. Joel Smith will likely make way for May, having returned to the side as a late inclusion last week. Jake Melksham could be the unlucky player to miss out in the forward line to accommodate for McDonald. Meanwhile, expect the final midfield spot to be decided between Tom Sparrow and James Jordon as Viney returns.

R23 medical sub: Aaron vandenBerg (unused)

Verdict: May, McDonald and Viney to replace Smith, Melksham and Sparrow. – Riley Beveridge

Steven May celebrates Melbourne's win over West Coast in R21, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Could the Kangaroos be considering another debutant for their final game of the year? Having blooded Charlie Comben last week, expect exciting speedster Phoenix Spicer to come into the selection frame for this weekend's clash with the Crows. Tristan Xerri is 50/50 to return as he battles a shin injury, while it's also uncertain as to whether Jack Mahony features following a shoulder issue. Bailey Scott was quiet during last week's defeat to the Swans and could make way for Spicer, should coach David Noble elect to blood another new prospect.

R23 medical sub: Lachie Young (unused)

Verdict: Spicer to come in for his debut, replacing Scott. – Riley Beveridge

North Melbourne's Phoenix Spicer. Picture: Getty Images

Ruckman Scott Lycett is expected to face the Bulldogs after jarring his right knee, but Sam Hayes is available if the former West Coast big man needs the week off. Trent McKenzie is also expected to be available after suffering hamstring tightness. A member of the Power's best backline now, he would be expected to return immediately, leaving someone unlucky after a 95-point win over Carlton. Steven Motlop is out of the team at the moment after recovering from ankle surgery, while Sam Powell-Pepper is also pressing for selection. There is not a clear opening for either right now. 

R22 medical substitute: Sam Mayes (replaced Scott Lycett) 

Verdict: McKenzie for Clurey. - Nathan Schmook

Port Adelaide's Trent McKenzie handballs during the clash with Adelaide in R21, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The retiring David Astbury was a late withdrawal from the GWS loss with a quad injury, but the Tigers have confirmed he will play a final game this weekend, meaning Ryan Garthwaiteis likely to miss. Trent Cotchin (knee) will also miss, with Riley Collier-Dawkins and Will Martyn looming as possible inclusions. With usual wingers Kamdyn McIntosh and Marlion Pickett waiting in the, well, wings, it'll be interesting to see if the Tigers give youngsters Thomson Dowand Hugo Ralphsmith another game.

R22 medical sub: Jake Aarts (unused)

Verdict: Astbury, Collier-Dawkins and McIntosh for Garthwaite, Cotchin and Ralphsmith. – Sarah Black

Richmond's David Astbury handballs during the clash with Brisbane in R18, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Veteran ruck Paddy Ryder has missed the past two weeks with Achilles tightness so there's little point bringing him back with the Saints' season shot. Darragh Joyce has been ruled out with concussion, while Max King'sgroin complaint re-surfaced against the Cats meaning he's likely to sit out against Fremantle. Leo Connolly and Hunter Clark will be tests after concussion with the former more likely to return. Tom Highmore was a late out with a hand injury against the Cats and could return, while Jack Billings will be touch-and-go with a hamstring strain. Others around the mark include Jack LonieJack BytelBen Long and Paul Hunter, while Nick Coffield and Dean Kent could be looked at. Young forward prospect Matthew Allison could be a left-field consideration with a lack of height in attack. 

R22 medical sub: Oscar Clavarino (replaced Paddy Ryder)

Verdict: Connolly and Hunter for King and Joyce. If fit, Billings for Kent. - Mitch Cleary

St Kilda's Leo Connolly in action against West Coast in round 19, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The Swans have little to play for in terms of ladder position so could rest any players with soreness or ongoing issues, such as Tom Hickey with his knee. Lance Franklin is expected to return after missing one match to focus on his personal training plan and Jake Lloyd should be recalled after managing knee soreness. Callum Mills has been training lightly to deal with Achilles tendinitis but might be ready to return, while young gun Chad Warner could also boost the onball brigade after playing three VFL scratch matches on his return from a fibula stress injury. Josh Kennedy has a minor hamstring strain and will be sidelined for at least one match, and the Swans will miss Nick Blakey's run off half-back for the rest of the season after he fractured a fibula. Hayden McLean impressed last week and will put pressure on Sam Reid for a key forward role but is likely to again step aside for Franklin.

R22 medical sub: Colin O'Riordan (replaced Nick Blakey)

Verdict: Franklin, Lloyd, Warner, Sinclair in for Kennedy, Blakey, Hickey and McLean. - Martin Pegan

Sydney's Lance Franklin celebrates a goal with Chad Warner against GWS in R5, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Premiership forward Willie Rioli will return at some level this week after completing his suspension, but the Eagles are yet to decide if that will be at AFL level. The Eagles will also need to replace injured midfielder Tim Kelly (knee), with Connor West a likely option. Josh Kennedy believes he is a chance to face Brisbane in round 23 despite suffering a compound fracture to a finger in the Western Derby. If he is unable to take his place, Jake Waterman is a likely replacement. Ruckman Bailey Williams returned in the WAFL and could be preferred as a forward/ruck to Nathan VardyHarry Edwards is the other option. Jamaine Jones and Jarrod Brander are available but were quiet in the WAFL. 

R22 medical substitute: Zac Langdon (replaced Tim Kelly)

Verdict: Rioli, West and Williams for Kelly, Vardy and Kennedy. - Nathan Schmook

Willie Rioli during a West Coast training session on June 21, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

It will be fascinating to see how Luke Beveridge reacts at the selection table this week after back-to-back defeats for the Bulldogs and in a huge game against Port Adelaide. Ruckman Stefan Martin is expected to be available and would need the run ahead of the finals, while Ed Richards, Roarke Smith and last week's substitute Anthony Scott will also be a chance to come into the starting squad. Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was managed last week so it will be interesting to see if the No.1 pick is recalled or left out. 

R22 medical sub: Anthony Scott (unused)

Verdict: Martin in for Lewis Young. – Callum Twomey

Stef Martin at Western Bulldogs training on June 16, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos