WHO IS a chance to play in round 19?
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 R19 ins and outs. Check it out.
With five games remaining and the Crows well and truly in rebuild mode, there are young players pushing hard for more exposure at senior level. First-year midfielder Zac Taylor was excellent at SANFL level and pushed for his debut with 28 disposals, two goals and five clearances. Defender Josh Worrell has played one game in three seasons and had 26 and five rebound 50s at the lower level. Wingman Brayden Cook (19 and four inside 50s) is another pushing hard, while ruckman Kieran Strachan (19 and 26 hitouts) is keeping pressure on Reilly O'Brien. Lachlan Sholl was a strong performer with 32 disposals and 10 marks.
R18 medical substitute: James Rowe (unused)
Verdict: Cook and Taylor for McHenry and Milera. – Nathan Schmook
The Lions could have a complete list of players to choose from for Saturday night's QClash against Gold Coast at the Gabba, with a host of big names on the way back. Captain Dayne Zorko, veteran Daniel Rich, wingman Jarrod Berry and defender Marcus Adams should all be available, while ruckman Oscar McInerney will be back from the health and safety protocols. All are regular best-22 players when available, making for some difficult decisions for coach Chris Fagan.
R18 medical substitute: Tom Fullarton (unused)
Verdict: Zorko for Harry Sharp, Berry for Mitch Robinson, McInerney for Darcy Fort, Adams for Jack Payne and Rich for Nakia Cockatoo. – Michael Whiting
The troops are finally returning for the Blues. Marc Pittonet made his comeback from a long-term knee injury with 15 disposals and 22 hitouts in the VFL last weekend, while Mitch McGovern made his return from a hamstring problem with 17 disposals and a goal. Both could realistically play in Sunday's clash with the Giants. Will Hayes is suspended for the next two matches, though Will Setterfield (40 disposals, eight marks) was impressive in the VFL and deserves a call-up. McGovern could replace Liam Stocker or Lachie Plowman as the side's intercepting half-back, while Michael Voss played with one less wing option when Pittonet was in the team earlier in the season. That could mean he comes in for either Hayes, Jack Newnes or Matt Cottrell. There's a lot to consider for Voss, with Jack Martin (calf) another option on the cusp of a recall.
R18 medical substitute: Josh Honey (unused)
Verdict: Pittonet, McGovern and Setterfield to replace Newnes, Stocker and Hayes, with Cottrell to push from a half-forward role back to a wing. – Riley Beveridge
Taylor Adams is set to return from concussion protocols, while Isaac Quaynor is also on track to be fit to face Essendon after entering the AFL's health and safety protocols last week. Jordan De Goey is less likely to return from the quad injury that has ruled him out for the past fortnight. Ollie Henry produced a strong response after being left out of the 22, kicking four goals against Port Melbourne on Sunday after being the unused medi-sub at Adelaide Oval. Brothers Callum and Tyler Brown brothers put their hands up for another shot after amassing big numbers in the VFL. Caleb Poulter continued his good form with another strong showing in the win at ETU Stadium.
R18 medical substitute: Ollie Henry (unused)
Verdict: Taylor Adams and Isaac Quaynor to return for Trent Bianco and Trey Ruscoe. – Josh Gabelich
Essendon has embarked on an unexpected winning streak, with three straight victories over Sydney, Brisbane and Gold Coast. While its form makes unforced changes unlikely, the Bombers are set to regain young gun Archie Perkins, who has missed all three wins with a calf injury, for Sunday's clash with Collingwood. The only slight injury concern out of the victory over the Suns was to Ben Hobbs, who played out the game despite a shoulder knock in the first quarter. Harrison Jones kicked two goals in the win, while Will Snelling is still battling for form since returning from injury, now goalless in four games. Massimo D'Ambrosio played forward in the VFL and finished with 15 disposals and a goal, while James Stewart booted four on his return from injury and Patrick Voss – picked in the 2021 NAB AFL Rookie Draft – also kicked four.
R18 medical substitute: Brayden Ham (unused)
Verdict: Perkins comes straight back in if fit, replacing Snelling. Otherwise, Hobbs to make way if he cannot back up due to the shoulder knock. – Dejan Kalinic
Key defender Alex Pearce is expected to return after missing two matches with a calf injury, likely leading to a shuffle of positions and a return to the forward half for Griffin Logue. The Dockers weren't missing much from their best team against Sydney but were disappointing. Backing the group to respond and making the one change is the most likely scenario, but if more adjustments are made there are options in the WAFL. Half-back Nathan Wilson (18 disposals and six inside 50s) was in good form when he was dropped last week, while Liam Henry (21 and five marks) could provide the class that was missing against the Swans. Nathan O'Driscoll returned in the WAFL and was important earlier in the season, but he may need more time before returning at the top level. Mitch Crowden (30 and six inside 50s), Darcy Tucker (27 and a goal) and ruckman Lloyd Meek (22 and 38 hitouts) had strong games with Peel Thunder.
R18 medical substitute: Ethan Hughes (unused)
Verdict: Pearce for Frederick, who moves to medical sub, with Logue moving forward. – Nathan Schmook
Jed Bews was initially managed but came on as the medi-sub when Sam Menegola suffered a concussion against Carlton. Cooper Stephens was the carryover emergency and didn't face Carlton's reserves at Ikon Park. Esava Ratugolea and Shannon Neale were both named in the 26-man squad and played in the earlier game on Saturday. 2020 draftee Nick Stevens dominated in the VFL, amassing 36 disposals and nine marks. Brandan Parfitt is set to be available after exiting health and safety protocols.
R18 medical substitute: Jed Bews (replaced Sam Menegola)
Verdict: Bews to come back in for Menegola. Hard to see unforced changes being made unless the Cats decided to freshen up players ahead of the final month of the season. – Josh Gabelich
The Suns have some big decisions to make ahead of facing Brisbane after being belted by Essendon at the weekend. Jy Farrar could come into consideration to add speed to a backline that has been decimated by injury, while Jeremy Sharp pressed his case for a call-up on the wing with 27 disposals and three goals in the VFL. Darcy Macpherson also impressed at the lower level, while Elijah Hollands (23 disposals) continues to knock on the door. Rory Thompson could be considered against the Lions tall forwards.
R18 medical substitute: Rory Atkins (unused)
Verdict: Sharp for Sam Flanders, Farrar for Sam Day, pushing Brandon Ellis to the wing and Jack Lukosius to the third tall forward. Thompson for Caleb Graham. – Michael Whiting
Mark McVeigh hinted there could be several changes following last weekend's heavy loss to Brisbane, with Josh Kelly (concussion) and Connor Idun (foot) already confirmed omissions with injury. One likely inclusion to face Carlton is experienced defender Adam Kennedy who missed the Lions match through concussion. Lachie Whitfield (hip flexor) could also be back in the frame, while Jarrod Brander and Braydon Preuss were strong contributors in a VFL loss to Brisbane.
R18 medical substitute: Callum Brown (unused)
Verdict: Preuss for Matt Flynn, Kennedy for Idun, Whitfield (if fit) for Tanner Bruhn, Callum Brown for Josh Kelly. – Michael Whiting
Jack Gunston may be available for the trip to Tasmania this weekend after missing the past fortnight following the passing of his father. Tom Phillips put his hand up for another chance after collecting 29 disposals for Box Hill. Liam Shiels responded to being axed again with 27 touches and two goals against Werribee. Max Lynch also regained form by amassing 43 hitouts and 16 disposals at Box Hill City Oval. Jai Serong remains in the hunt for a debut.
R18 medical substitute: Jacob Koschitzke (unused)
Verdict: Gunston to return, if ready, with Koschitzke to be squeezed out. – Josh Gabelich
There's plenty for the Demons to weigh up ahead of Saturday night's clash with the Dogs. The club has said it will take a conservative approach when determining the availability of Jake Lever (shoulder), despite ruling out significant damage. Meanwhile, Clayton Oliver (thumb) is back in main training and should play. Harrison Petty has cleared the AFL's health and safety protocols and would be the obvious replacement for Lever if he can't get up, while Adam Tomlinson would be the most likely option to go out of the side if both are available. Jake Melksham came into the team for Oliver and would be at risk of losing his place, should the star midfielder return. The VFL side had the bye last week, so there is no exposed form to pick from in reserve.
R18 medical substitute: Luke Dunstan (unused)
Verdict: Oliver to replace Melksham, with Petty to come in for either Lever or Tomlinson depending on fitness. – Riley Beveridge
A heel injury to key forward Nick Larkey was the only sour note following last week's upset win for the Kangaroos. He will face a fitness test ahead of Saturday's clash with the Hawks, though his availability appears unlikely after a delayed start to the week. Aaron Hall (quad) should return from a period on the sidelines, while medical substitute Charlie Lazzaro – as well as VFL standouts Jack Mahony (22 disposals, one goal) and Eddie Ford (11 disposals, 0.3 goals) – are also on the cusp of call-ups. Flynn Perez has been on the fringes of the team recently, but played an impressive shut-down role on the in-form Liam Baker last week and should hold his spot.
R18 medical substitute: Charlie Lazzaro (replaced Nick Larkey)
Verdict: Hall to replace Larkey, with some tinkering made to a smaller forward line. – Riley Beveridge
The Power are considering an immediate call-up for Orazio Fantasia if he is cleared to return from a quad injury in what would be his first AFL game since last year's preliminary final. The Power could also recall mid-season recruit Brynn Teakle to play in the ruck against Geelong after recovering from a broken collarbone, releasing spearhead Charlie Dixon to spend more time forward. Sam Hayes is the alternative option in the ruck if reinforcements are needed, but a tall forward would likely need to make way. Xavier Duursma has been in and out this season and is on the cusp of a recall on the wing, while versatile Lachie Jones could return from a hamstring injury.
R18 medical substitute: Jase Burgoyne (unused)
Verdict: Duursma and Jones for Mead and Farrell, who moves to medical substitute. – Nathan Schmook
In terms of injuries, Richmond got through the North Melbourne loss relatively unscathed, with Josh Gibcus (shoulder) a test for this week. Newbies Tyler Sonsie and Noah Cumberland impressed and should be given another run, but substitute Jake Aarts may struggle to hold his spot. Jason Castanga (24 disposals, eight clearances) impressed in the middle at VFL level. Ivan Soldo (thumb) should make his way back into the team, which may lead to a shuffle of talls, sending Noah Balta back to defence and omitting Ben Miller.
R18 medical substitute: Jake Aarts (replaced Josh Gibcus)
Verdict: Soldo and Castanga for Miller and Aarts. Miller to hold his spot if Gibcus isn't right. – Sarah Black
St Kilda could be boosted by the return of Hunter Clark for this weekend's trip to Western Australia to face West Coast if he proves his fitness later in the week. Seb Ross and Marcus Windhager are both expected to be available after missing last Friday night due to health and safety protocols. Tom Campbell could be considered if the Saints look to replace Paddy Ryder with a ruckman after the journeyman amassed 45 hitouts, 26 disposals and 14 clearances against Coburg. Dan Hannebery starred in his return game but is likely to require more time before he can return at senior level. Jack Bytel was also impressive at Piranha Park.
R18 medical substitute: Ben Long (replaced Paddy Ryder)
Verdict: Clark, Ross and Windhager to come back in. Zak Jones might be in trouble after Brett Ratten singled him out post-game. Ryder has been ruled out while Jack Higgins could also be in danger. – Josh Gabelich
Not much reason for John Longmire to change a team that just broke Fremantle's home fortress at the weekend. Josh Kennedy impressed in the VFL against a strong Southport outfit, gathering 28 disposals in his comeback match from a serious hamstring injury, and could come into midfield calculations either to face Adelaide on Saturday or later in the season. Youngsters Logan McDonald, Angus Sheldrick and Will Gould also did well at the lower level, while Harry Cunningham has been an unlucky medical sub in recent weeks.
R18 medical substitute: Harry Cunningham (unused)
Verdict: Unchanged. – Michael Whiting
The Eagles will need to adjust their ruck combination if Callum Jamieson misses with a groin issue, with defender Josh Rotham (27 disposals and 14 hitouts in the WAFL) an option to play alongside Bailey Williams. Harry Edwards could also be moved from the backline. The Eagles are keen to give opportunities to young players as much as possible in the final rounds, so don't expect to see many omitted until they've had a few weeks in the team. Greg Clark (23 and eight tackles in the WAFL), Isiah Winder (26 and six inside 50s) and Patrick Naish (30 and nine marks) are pushing for opportunities.
R17 medical substitute: Samo Petrevski-Seton (replaced Jamieson)
Verdict: Rotham and Petrevski-Seton for Jamieson and Foley, who moves to medical substitute. – Nathan Schmook
The Dogs were hit by the health and safety protocols last week but are likely to regain Aaron Naughton and Lachie Hunter this week in a crunch clash with Melbourne. There will likely be some unlucky omissions after the club's strong win over St Kilda last week kept alive its finals chances, with Buku Khamis and Lachie McNeil both performing strongly in their roles as inclusions. Jordon Sweet could be an out for Naughton although the Dogs may want to go in with both ruckmen against Melbourne duo Max Gawn and Luke Jackson. Bailey Williams, who has spent time further up the ground, could also be a chance to miss out on the 22 if Hunter comes in.
R18 medical substitute: Luke Cleary (unused)
Verdict: Naughton, Hunter in for Sweet, Williams. Williams to be the medical substitute. – Cal Twomey