WHO IS a chance to play in round 10?
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 R10 ins and outs. Check it out.
Ruckman Reilly O'Brien was dropped last week after a poor patch and appears unlikely to face St Kilda pairing Rowan Marshall and Paddy Ryder on Saturday, giving Kieran Strachan another week in the team. Small forward Lachlan Murphy will push to return after missing one match with neck soreness. Young key forward Riley Thilthorpe is ready to play after overcoming a knee complaint and a stint in health and safety protocols. He offers ruck support for Strachan and could replace Elliot Himmelberg, whose impact forward has dried up after a strong patch between rounds three and five. Young midfielder Luke Pedlar is pushing for an opportunity and more AFL exposure after being named medical substitute last week. Defender Jordan Butts comes out of health and safety protocols on Saturday morning, making his inclusion difficult. Young star Josh Rachele has played every game in his debut season and could be due a break after two goals in his past four matches.
R9 medical substitute: Luke Pedlar (unused)
Verdict: Murphy and Thilthorpe for Himmelberg and Rachele – Nathan Schmook
Five wins on the trot, 8-1 overall and no VFL match at the weekend would make changing the line-up tricky for Chris Fagan. Mitch Robinson has been on fire at the lower level and would come into consideration for a return to his wing spot, while Deven Robertson, Tom Berry and Rhys Mathieson have all been pressing their cases on a weekly basis.
R9 medical substitute: Tom Berry (unused)
Verdict: Unchanged. – Michael Whiting
The Blues will have to find a replacement for Zac Williams, who will miss the next three months with a high-grade calf injury. It could see them go taller in the backline, with Lewis Young set to return from the AFL’s health and safety protocols. That would allow Brodie Kemp to perhaps play more of an intercepting role, or even go forward in the absence of Harry McKay. Liam Stocker is another option to replace Williams, should he be fit following a shoulder injury, while Jack Martin is also closing on a return from a calf injury of his own. Expect them both to be outside chances to feature, though. The side’s VFL affiliate had the bye last week, so there is no exposed form to pick from.
R9 medical sub: Matt Cottrell (replaced Zac Williams)
Verdict: Young to replace Williams in a taller backline. - Riley Beveridge
Collingwood will need to replace another key defender with Jack Madgen suffering a shoulder injury last Friday night. Nathan Murphy made a strong return from an ankle injury in the VFL last weekend, collecting 20 disposals and 12 marks against Footscray. Jack Ginnivan and Scott Pendlebury both missed last weekend due to illness but are set to return. Mason Cox dominated an undermanned Bulldogs ruck division and starred around the ground, finishing with 47 hitouts, 19 disposals and seven marks. Trent Bianco also produced another strong outing at VFL level. Jamie Elliott is pressing for a return from shoulder surgery and could come in for the trip to the west.
R9 medical substitute: Finlay Macrae (replaced Jack Madgen)
Verdict: Ginnivan and Pendlebury to return, with Cox, Murphy and Elliott promoted. Callum Brown, Beau McCreery, Aiden Begg, Fin Macrae and Madgen go out. - Josh Gabelich
Jye Caldwell is in doubt with his AC joint injury after the big collision in last week’s defeat to Sydney, while Aaron Francis and Nick Bryan could also be on the fringes depending how the Bombers want to shape up against Richmond on Saturday night. Alec Waterman is a chance to come into the starting 22 after being the substitute last week, while Kaine Baldwin and Brayden Ham are also in the mix. Andrew Phillips may also be a chance after returning from his hamstring injury.
R9 medical substitute: Alec Waterman (replaced Jye Caldwell)
Verdict: Waterman and Phillips into the 22 for Caldwell and Bryan. - Callum Twomey
Important forward Sam Switkowski will return after a 16-day break because of concussion, boosting a misfiring forward group. The Dockers should also regain Michael Walters when he emerges from health and safety protocols later this week. The biggest query is on spearhead Matt Taberner, who is pushing to resume after three weeks sidelined with a hamstring injury. Other options if the Dockers want to change their forward mix further are Jye Amiss, who booted two goals in an impressive debut before being omitted, and talented medium forward Sam Sturt, who has booted three goals in each of his past two WAFL matches. Defender Brandon Walker is available as a backline replacement if needed. It is unlikely captain Nat Fyfe will be rushed back from a back injury after joining the main training group for the first time last week.
R9 medical substitute: Brandon Walker (unused)
Verdict: Switkowski, Walters and Taberner for Erasmus, Banfield and Treacy . – Nathan Schmook
Cooper Stephens was stiff to be squeezed out of the 22 after collecting 19 disposals on debut. He was the unused medi-sub and might get another opportunity against Port Adelaide on Saturday. The Cats' VFL program had the bye on the weekend, but Luke Dahlhaus starred the week earlier and will be in the mix to return. Jed Bews is available after exiting concussion protocols. Ollie Dempsey and Francis Evans were senior emergencies. Gary Rohan is edging closer towards an AFL return after playing two games in the VFL, but he isn’t ready to return just yet.
R9 medical substitute: Cooper Stephens (unused)
Verdict: Bews to return for Mitch Knevitt. - Josh Gabelich
The Suns have beaten top-five teams in successive weeks and have no fresh injuries ahead of facing the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat on Saturday. The VFL team had a bye, but Sam Flanders is bashing the door down with strong form, while Jack Bowes and Jeremy Sharp have also impressed at the lower level, with the latter in contention for selection if he gets through main training on Wednesday following a hip injury. The Suns have three tall defenders, along with the versatile Jy Farrar, to pit against a smaller Bulldogs forward line, but after back-to-back wins it's hard to see too many, if any, changes.
R9 medical substitute: Darcy Macpherson (unused)
Verdict: Unchanged. – Michael Whiting
With caretaker coach Mark McVeigh taking the reins this week against West Coast, it's hard to know what the Giants will do with their team. Jesse Hogan missed the loss against Carlton due to illness and should come back into consideration, while James Peatling, (27 disposals) and Jarrod Brander (22 and 12 marks) impressed in the VFL loss against Southport. Plenty of players were quiet against the Blues, so will McVeigh show some faith, or will he make changes with some faces he's keen to see get a run?
R9 medical substitute: Bobby Hill (unused)
Verdict: Hogan for Matt de Boer and Hill into the 22 to rest Finn Callaghan after five straight games. – Michael Whiting
Daniel Howe and Liam Shiels have been in and out of Sam Mitchell's team in 2022, but both produced strong showings for Box Hill to put their magnets on the board for discussion this week. Ned Long has been in that discussion across the past month and might finally get an opportunity after collecting 19 disposals and six marks against Richmond's VFL side. Tom Mitchell missed last weekend but is set to face Brisbane in Launceston on Sunday. Changkuoth Jiath is also trying to prove his fitness after missing the past month with a hamstring strain.
R9 medical substitute: Connor MacDonald (replaced Jack Gunston)
Verdict: Mitchell to return along with Jiath, and Long to finally get an opportunity. Sam Butler and James Worpel make way and Jack Gunston misses through injury. - Josh Gabelich
The Demons will be forced into a couple of changes, but their VFL side is 8-0 so replacements won’t be hard to come by. James Harmes will likely miss after suffering a hamstring injury last week, with Luke Dunstan’s 32-disposal and three-goal performance in the reserves a chance to be rewarded with a call-up. Harmes’ replacement as medical sub against the Eagles, Kade Chandler, will also miss the next two matches through suspension. Toby Bedford returned to the VFL last week and won 25 disposals and two goals, so should return to his customary position as the 23rd man. Jacob van Rooyen (22 disposals, six goals), Sam Weideman (20 disposals, six goals) and Bailey Laurie (four goals) were dominant at VFL level last week, while Christian Salem is another closing on a return from a knee injury.
R9 medical substitute: Kade Chandler (replaced James Harmes)
Verdict: Dunstan to replace Harmes, with Bedford to take Chandler’s role as the sub. - Riley Beveridge
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The Kangaroos will have some key senior inclusions to pick from this week. Hugh Greenwood will return from the AFL’s health and safety protocols, Jason Horne-Francis is likely to be back after hamstring tightness, while Jy Simpkin is also set to play after missing last week with his own hamstring issue. Ben McKay is an outside chance to return from a knee problem, while Aaron Hall is also closing on a comeback from a hamstring injury. Flynn Perez, Jack Mahony and Kyron Hayden have been on the fringes of the side recently and could make way for the aforementioned experienced trio, while Atu Bosenavulagi and Josh Walker could make way if McKay is fit. Such is the extent of the side’s injury list, the Kangaroos had just five senior-listed players feature in the VFL last week.
R9 medical substitute: Charlie Lazzaro (unused)
Verdict: Greenwood, Horne-Francis and Simpkin to return for Perez, Mahony and Hayden, with Bosenavulagi and Walker at risk of losing their place if McKay is deemed fit. - Riley Beveridge
The Power expect captain Tom Jonas to be available after missing their 69-point win against North Melbourne because of health and safety protocols. He comes out of isolation later this week. Small forward Orazio Fantasia was medical substitute last week, but a lack of game time will work against him coming straight into the 22 against Geelong. Likewise Charlie Dixon, with the Power's forward line hard to fault right now. Midfielder Trent Dumont missed last week due to health and safety protocols, but he is out of isolation and will be strongly considered having played five straight matches before being forced out. A return as the medical substitute might be his path back into the team after a big win.
R9 medical substitute: Orazio Fantasia (unused)
Verdict: Jonas for Frederick, Dumont replaces Fantasia as medical sub . – Nathan Schmook
Marlion Pickett is unavailable due to suspension, while Noah Balta has suffered a hamstring injury. The Tigers have options to replace the key back, with Robbie Tarrant rested in the second half of the VFL, and Josh Gibcus a test after a week in health and safety protocols. Thomson Dow (23 disposals, 11 clearances) was one of Richmond's best in the VFL, while Hugo Ralphsmith (22) successfully returned from a rib injury. Jack Graham (toe) is also a test this week.
R9 medical substitute: Shane Edwards (replaced Balta)
Verdict: Edwards to return to the 22 as cover for Pickett, with Gibcus to replace Balta. Dow on standby for Graham. – Sarah Black
The Saints need to find a replacement for Jack Steele and could reward Mitch Owens for his sustained consistence at Sandringham. Ryan Byrnes and Jack Bytel are also in contention for the vacant spot in St Kilda's midfield. Hunter Clark returned through the VFL but is expected to play another game for the Zebras before he is given the green light to return at AFL level, just like Jack Billings had to do. Tom Highmore, Jarrod Lienert and Jarryn Geary have all been banging on the door for another chance at AFL level, but St Kilda's back six is pretty difficult to break into right now. Dan Butler missed the win over Geelong due to Achilles soreness, but is set to be available for selection this weekend.
R9 medical substitute: Marcus Windhager replaced Jack Higgins
Verdict: Owens to earn another opportunity, replacing the injured Steele. Butler to return with Higgins entering concussion protocols. - Josh Gabelich
The Swans got things back on track last week with a win over Essendon and face Carlton in a crunch Friday night clash at Marvel Stadium. Braeden Campbell was managed last week and will be available. Could John Longmire be tempted to rest Lance Franklin after four straight games? Or maybe even Josh Kennedy as he did earlier in the season to help the veteran get to the business end full of running?
R9 medical substitute: Ryan Clarke (unused)
Verdict: Campbell for the suspended James Rowbottom. – Michael Whiting
The Eagles face a balancing act in bringing back several senior players over the next fortnight, with captain Luke Shuey (hamstring) considered the most likely this week, followed by Andrew Gaff (quad). Josh Kennedy (knee soreness) is all but ruled out to face Greater Western Sydney, while an extra week off would also benefit Shannon Hurn (calf). Star midfielder Elliot Yeo is closing in on a return, but a lack of training due to concussion and a stint in health and safety protocols points to a return via the WAFL. Wingman Patrick Naish is the more likely choice to be elevated into the 22 as a replacement for Luke Foley (concussion). Liam Ryan will also make way due to a one-match suspension and hamstring injury. Brady Hough appears to have recovered from a back issue and may be required if Liam Duggan is unavailable with a suspected knee injury.
R9 medical substitute: Patrick Naish (replaced Liam Ryan)
Verdict: Shuey, Naish and Hough for Foley, Ryan and Duggan. – Nathan Schmook
The Dogs will be hoping Aaron Naughton is fine to face Gold Coast this week after hurting his knee in last week’s win over Collingwood. Tim O’Brien may be available from his calf injury and Jason Johannisen is expected to play at some level after his own calf struggles, but VFL looks more likely. Hayden Crozier, Arthur Jones and Josh Schache are others around the mark, with Schache and Stefan Martin (managed) a chance to come in if Naughton doesn’t get up.
R9 medical substitute: Roarke Smith (unused)
Verdict: No change. - Callum Twomey