ARE YOU wondering why a player is not in your team on a regular basis?

We look at which players are struggling for games at every club, and what their futures may hold.

Why are these guys out of favour with the coach? Check it out. 

Fischer McAsey

It's been a rough three seasons for the No.6 pick in the 2019 NAB AFL Draft since arriving at West Lakes. McAsey played 10 games in his first season before form struggles and injury curtailed his progress. The key position player missed a chunk of the most recent pre-season with a back problem but has got on the park to play 13 SANFL games. After starting as a defender, McAsey has been playing forward, kicking 11 goals from his past nine matches. Taylor Walker, Darcy Fogarty and most recently Riley Thilthorpe have filled the key forward posts at senior level, but the Crows have tried a number of combinations in 2022. - Michael Whiting

Others on the outer: Matt Crouch (11 games), Lachie Sholl (11 games)

Fischer McAsey after joining Adelaide in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

Ely Smith

Now in his fourth season, Smith is still yet to debut and looks quite a way down the Lions' pecking order. The former first round draft pick has been tried on a wing and at half-forward in the VFL, but ultimately he's an inside midfielder in a club stacked with them. Lachie Neale, Jarryd Lyons, Dayne Zorko and Hugh McCluggage are all durable regulars at senior level, while Rhys Mathieson and Deven Robertson also appear ahead of Smith – who has averaged 20 disposals in 12 games at the lower level this season. The 21-year-old is out of contract at season's end and running out of time. - Michael Whiting

Others on the outer: Rhys Mathieson (one game), Deven Robertson (four games)

Ely Smith, pictured at a training session in January, is pushing for a senior debut in 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Will Setterfield

It has been a frustrating year for Setterfield, who played the first six games in an unfamiliar position on the wing and hasn't started a contest since. Instead, the Blues have preferred a mix of Lochie O'Brien, Jack Newnes, Matt Cottrell and Will Hayes in the position. Setterfield, uncontracted beyond this season, has recently gone back to a more natural inside role in the VFL. It's resulted in performances worth 40, 35, 34 and 26 disposals in his past four games. Expect it to be rewarded in a senior call-up throughout the final month of the campaign. - Riley Beveridge

Others on the outer: Paddy Dow (two games), Lachie Fogarty (three games), Liam Stocker (four games), Brodie Kemp (four games).

Will Setterfield is tackled by Steven Motlop during Carlton's clash with Port Adelaide in round five, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Caleb Poulter

The South Australian made a splash in his debut season, managing 11 eye-catching appearances after arriving via pick No. 30, but season two has been much more difficult for Poulter. Craig McRae has only picked him in the 23 once – round nine against the Western Bulldogs – despite sustained form at VFL level. The return to form by Steele Sidebottom and the return of Josh Daicos to a wing has restricted the amount of opportunities the out-of-contract wingman has received. Clearly still has a bright future in the game, but will be hoping for much more opportunity in 2023. - Josh Gabelich

Others on the outer: Trent Bianco (four games), Callum Brown (five).

Caleb Poulter at Collingwood training in July, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Aaron Francis

Francis, pick No.6 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, has played just four senior games this year, with the last of those coming in round 10. The Bombers played Francis as a forward – he has kicked four goals in those four games in 2022 – but he returned to defence in the VFL before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. He has fallen behind others at both ends of the ground. Out of favour, Francis is also out of contract at season's end and his Essendon future is uncertain. – Dejan Kalinic

Others on the outer: Kaine Baldwin (four games), James Stewart (four), Nick Bryan (four), Zach Reid (six).

Essendon's Aaron Francis leaves the field against Brisbane in R2, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Lloyd Meek 

The strong-bodied ruckman would be getting a regular senior game in a lot of AFL teams, but the combination of Sean Darcy and Rory Lobb has become the preferred big-man pairing for the Dockers. Meek has played five games this season, with all coming as the replacement for either Darcy or key forward Matt Taberner, with the 24-year-old otherwise dominating WAFL games. His best position is as a No.1 ruckman, having managed three goals and three marks inside 50 from his 14 AFL games, and two goals from eight WAFL games this season. The opportunity to carry the ruck is unlikely to come while Darcy is fit, making Meek's next career step an interesting one. – Nathan Schmook 

Others on the outer: Connor Blakely (0 games), Joel Hamling (one), Mitch Crowden (two), Nathan Wilson (two), Liam Henry (four), Josh Treacy (four).

Lloyd Meek celebrates a goal during Fremantle's clash with Brisbane in round 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Dahlhaus

The 2016 premiership player has always had to fight for a spot since moving to Kardinia Park at the end of 2018, but opportunities have been far harder to land than any other season. Dahlhaus played 61 games across his first three years, but has only nine on the board this year – none since round 14 and three as the medi-sub. The rise of Tyson Stengle has hurt his chances, as well as the return of Gary Rohan in the second half of the season. The 29-year-old has played five games in the VFL since round seven but could still play a role between now and the end of the season. - Josh Gabelich

Others on the outer: Quinton Narkle (eight games), Shaun Higgins (five).

Luke Dahlhaus in action for Geelong against Brisbane in R4, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Rory Atkins

After heading to the Suns from Adelaide via free agency at the end of the 2020 season, Atkins has struggled to impact. He played just eight games last season and added just another six – including three as the medical sub – this year. Atkins has been tried at half-back and wing, but has simply not played well enough to force his way into the seniors. Even with running defenders Wil Powell, Lachie Weller and Connor Budarick out injured for the remainder of the season, coach Stuart Dew has looked elsewhere when Atkins may have been a half-back option. He has played seven VFL matches and averaged 27 disposals. - Michael Whiting

Others on the outer: Elijah Hollands (no games), Alex Sexton (three games)

Rory Atkins ahead of the clash against Melbourne in round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Jarrod Brander

There were high hopes for the former first round draft pick after moving from West Coast but surprisingly he's only managed five games for the season to date. As was the case at the Eagles, the issue with the 195cm Brander is where best to play him? He was named for round one against the Swans and played as a third tall forward and, if not for some inaccurate kicking, he would have had a real impact on the contest. Since then he's failed to nail down a spot in the team but he has been one of the Giants' best across the VFL season playing predominantly on the wing. There are many who feel there's a definite AFL player in Brander and it's expected he'll get a good run at it in the senior side over the final five weeks of the campaign. The Giants need to learn a bit more about their list and most certainly about a player like Brander who, given his height, can potentially provide a unique wing threat at the top level. – Daniel Garb

Others on the outer: Zach Sproule (five games), Jake Stein (six). 

00:47 Mins
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Brander soccers through first as a Giant

Jarrod Brander kicked this brilliant goal off the deck which was his first as a GWS player

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Tom Phillips

After playing all 22 home and away games in his first season with the Hawks, the former Magpie has struggled as form and injury have taken a toll. Dropped after round two, Phillips regained his spot for the Easter Monday win over Geelong but a serious ankle injury at training saw him spend the following two months on the sidelines. Now four weeks into his return, the 26-year-old was best afield for Box Hill at the weekend but might struggle to push his way back into the senior side ahead of the likes of young guns Josh Ward, Connor Macdonald and Will Day. Out of contract at season's end, it will be interesting to see if and where Phillips fits into Sam Mitchell's plans.  Brandon Cohen

Others on the outer: Max Lynch (six games), Daniel Howe (eight), Liam Shiels (12).

Tom Phillips in action during the Hawthorn-North Melbourne clash in round one on March 20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Sam Weideman

It’s been a while since the former top-10 pick was able to lock down a spot in the Dees’ best 22 and he’s been in – and then out – of the side on three occasions this season for a total of eight games. He’s had ample opportunity, through both good form and good fortune. He found himself a late inclusion in round three after Ben Brown withdrew, booting four goals in a career-best showing. It was enough to hold his spot for another four weeks, but that stint yielded just five goals. The door’s opened for a recall three times since, thanks to injuries to some of the Demons’ big men, but Weideman was unable to find the big sticks on each of those occasions and has been left out of the side – presumably for good – since round 16. – Alison O’Connor

Others on the outer: Kade Chandler (three games, all as medi-sub), Jake Melksham (four), Luke Dunston (five), Adam Tomlinson (seven), Toby Bedford (14, nine as medi-sub).

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Weideman slots super snap while off balance

Sam Weideman kicks a superb goal on his left for his third

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Callum Coleman-Jones

Having arrived from Richmond with high expectations, it hasn't been the debut North Melbourne season that Coleman-Jones would have hoped for. Played as a pure forward in round one, he was held to just four disposals and was seen only three more times in the next four months as the club looked to Todd Goldstein and Tristan Xerri as its preferred ruck duo. With Xerri now out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, Coleman-Jones will get the opportunity to showcase his potential. He certainly delivered some of that last Saturday, winning 18 disposals, seven hitouts and four clearances against his former side to help the Kangaroos engineer a massive upset win. - Riley Beveridge

Others on the outer: Charlie Comben (0 games), Eddie Ford (three), Kyron Hayden (five), Charlie Lazzaro (seven).

Callum Coleman-Jones in action during North Melbourne's clash against Richmond in round 18, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Xavier Duursma

Seen as one of the Power's starting wingmen before the start of the season, Duursma hasn't got rolling in 2022 and has split his games with seven each in the AFL and SANFL, with two of his senior games coming as the medical substitute. Dropped after round two, the 22-year-old suffered neck and shoulder bruising in the SANFL and returned at AFL level as the substitute in round seven. He's been in and out since as Dan Houston emerges as a preferred wingman and Kane Farrell (11 games), Jackson Mead (10) and Trent Dumont (eight) earn matches there. A key player in his first two seasons before injury ruined his 2021 campaign, the Power have missed having the penetrating youngster at his best this season. – Nathan Schmook 

Others on the outer: Sam Mayes (three games), Miles Bergman (five), Sam Hayes (seven).

Xavier Duursma in action during round nine, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Sydney Stack

Stack has played just the two games at AFL level this year, picking up five disposals in the Tigers' rout of West Coast in round seven, and was an unused medi-sub in round eight. He was building a damaging run of VFL form – averaging 16 disposals and one goal a game – in the six weeks before he fractured a cheekbone at the start of July. The emergence of Maurice Rioli has meant fewer forward spots on offer, while Shane Edwards is also playing more time in attack and less in the midfield. Sarah Black

Others on the outer: Will Martyn (0 games), Riley Collier-Dawkins (two), Rhyan Mansell (two), Matt Parker (five), Thomson Dow (six).

Sydney Stack gets a kick away for Richmond against West Coast in R7, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Tom Highmore

After being plucked out of the SANFL at 22 Highmore had a decent impact in his first season at Moorabbin, featuring 13 times in red, white and black. But opportunities have been scarce in season two for the Canberra product. The mobile defender didn’t feature in Brett Ratten’s side until round 16 when Dougal Howard was substituted out of the game with a knee injury and has only managed three appearances in 2022. The emergence of Josh Battle as a defender and the durability of Callum Wilkie has meant Highmore has been stuck at Sandringham, despite starring for a sustained period in the VFL. Highmore is in the team right now but might struggle for opportunities when Howard returns in a week. - Josh Gabelich

Others on the outer: Dean Kent (one game), Darragh Joyce (three).

Tom Highmore marks in front of the pack for St Kilda against Carlton in R16, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Sam Wicks

After starring with his blistering speed and playing 22 matches last season, Sam Wicks has found himself on the out, only sighted on eight occasions this year. The 22-year-old has been dropped three times this campaign, after only missing one match in 2021 through suspension. On the weekend in the Sydney Swans’ 22-point loss to Southport in the VFL, Wicks collected 15 disposals and one goal. He remains contracted until at least the end of 2023. – Sarah Olle 

Others on the outer: Callum Sinclair (0 games), Lewis Taylor (one), Ryan Clarke (four), James Bell (six), Ben Ronke (seven).

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Wicks finds the sticks right as the buzzer ticks

Sam Wicks manages to sneak through this crafty goal right before the siren sounds

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Greg Clark 

A star in the WAFL before landing at West Coast as a mature-age recruit, Clark's past six weeks have been disjointed. The big-bodied onballer played the last of his five full games in round 12 against Adelaide and his two appearances since have been as the medical substitute. Hurting his chances of breaking back in through form have been the bye and a general WAFL bye in that period, winning 27 and 23 disposals in the two recent state league matches he has played. A shoulder injury early in the season prevented Clark from playing when the Eagles' injury list was at its worst, but there would be a lot to gain from handing the 25-year-old an inside midfield role in the final weeks of the season. – Nathan Schmook 

Others on the outer: Zac Langdon (five games), Hugh Dixon (seven).

Greg Clark kicks the ball during West Coast's clash against Adelaide in round 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Zaine Cordy

The versatile tall defender and forward hasn't played at AFL level since round 10. He is available this week after missing last week through health and safety protocols but has been playing in the Footscray VFL side in the previous weeks. Cordy, a premiership player in attack for the Bulldogs in 2016, also played in last year's Grand Final defeat to Melbourne and played nine of the first 10 games this season before losing his place in the side. He is out of contract at the end of this year. - Callum Twomey

Others on the outer: Roarke Smith (seven games)

Zaine Cordy in action for the Western Bulldogs against Brisbane in the 2022 AAMI Community Series. Picture: AFL Photos