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.

While the team could be rewarded for a confidence-boosting win against Carlton, the Crows may also take the opportunity to recall a pair of important youngsters. Forward Josh Rachele is expected to put his hand up after recovering from a hip injury, while forward/ruck Riley Thilthorpe should be cleared to play after rolling an ankle at training last week. It will be hard to drop Josh Worrell after the defender impressed in his second AFL game, so the Crows may need to look at other avenues to get Tom Doedee back in the 22 if he is fit. The SANFL team had a bye, but midfielders Jackson Hately and Lachlan Sholl have both put up solid recent performances to push their cases if further change is needed.

R20 medical substitute: Ben Davis (unused)

Verdict: Rachele and Thilthorpe for Murphy and Himmelberg. – Nathan Schmook

Riley Thilthorpe celebrates a goal during Adelaide's clash with Hawthorn in round 17, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Lions should be able to bolster their defensive stocks for Sunday's match against Carlton at the Gabba with Daniel Rich (concussion) and Brandon Starcevich (quad) both expected to return. With injury clouds hanging over Jarrod Berry (ankle) and Zac Bailey (kidney), it could leave the door open for some midfield-forward players to put their hand up. Deven Robertson, James Tunstill and Kai Lohmann – who have all played seniors this season – were strong contributors in the VFL last weekend.

R20 medical substitute: Darcy Fort (replaced Zac Bailey)

Verdict: Starcevich for Nakia Cockatoo, Rich for Mitch Robinson, pushing Cal Ah Chee to the wing. If Bailey and Berry are unavailable, Deven Robertson and Robinson (to get a reprieve), respectively. – Michael Whiting

02:06 Mins
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VFL Showreel, R19: Kai Lohmann highlights

Enjoy Kai Lohmann's standout VFL performance for the Lions

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There will be at least three enforced changes for the Blues ahead of another critical encounter, this time against the Lions on Sunday. Nic Newman (knee) will miss the rest of the home and away season, while Corey Durdin (shoulder) is out for this week and Matt Kennedy (jaw) will miss the next fortnight. George Hewett (back) has also been ruled out for at least another week. Michael Voss will have to decide whether Jack Silvagni is recalled for Durdin, or whether strong VFL performances from Jack Martin (16 disposals, one goal) and Lachie Fogarty (30 disposals, eight tackles) are rewarded. Fogarty or Josh Honey, as arguably the best two pressure options, could get the nod. Paddy Dow (22 disposals, one goal) put his name in the mix to replace Kennedy, while Caleb Marchbank (16 disposals, three marks) and Brodie Kemp (18 disposals, 10 marks) are options to feature for Newman. Liam Stocker would have been another candidate, but he has entered the AFL's 12-day concussion protocols after a knock at reserves level.

R20 medical substitute: Jack Silvagni (replaced Corey Durdin)

Verdict: Fogarty, Dow and Marchbank to replace Durdin, Kennedy and Newman. – Riley Beveridge

Carlton Blues' Lachie Fogarty handballs during the Round 13 VFL match against Footscray Bulldogs at Ikon Park on June 17, 2022. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Taylor Adams injured his groin and has been ruled out for the rest of the home and away season. Brodie Grundy could return for the first time since injuring his PCL against Essendon on Anzac Day. The two-time All-Australian got through a VFL game unscathed, finishing with 21 hitouts, 11 disposals and nine tackles in a fiery clash against Southport. Brody Mihocek is also in contention to face Melbourne on Friday night after missing the win over Port Adelaide due to a hip injury. Fin Macrae was a standout in the reserves, amassing 29 disposals, eight clearances and seven tackles at Vic Park. Callum Brown impressed with 28 touches and eight tackles after being named in the squad. Ollie Henry and Jack Madgen both kicked three goals each, while Trey Ruscoe played limited minutes after being in the 26-man squad.  

R20 medical substitute: Josh Carmichael (replaced Taylor Adams)

Verdict: If Mihocek doesn't prove his fitness, the Magpies could be spared the selection headache and play Grundy in the same side as Darcy Cameron and Mason Cox. Macrae to be rewarded for sustained VFL form and will come in for Adams. – Josh Gabelich

01:39 Mins
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VFL Showreel, R19: Brodie Grundy highlights

Enjoy Brodie Grundy's standout VFL performance for the Pies

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Essendon was too good for North Melbourne in a 48-point win on Sunday, its fifth victory in seven games as it continued its strong late-season form while creating some competition for places. With Dylan Shiel (hamstring) a late out from that win, the only other injury concern was Jye Caldwell, who was replaced by debutant Jye Menzie after suffering a calf injury. Darcy Parish is set to return from his calf injury for Saturday's meeting with Greater Western Sydney, while Andrew McGrath (health and safety protocols) should also be available. Andrew Phillips was managed, but James Stewart's three-goal game will likely see him retain his spot. It was a relatively even team performance for the Bombers against North, with the returning Archie Perkins (nine disposals) and Massimo D’Ambrosio (13) having quieter games. Nick Bryan dominated again at VFL level with 28 disposals, 34 hitouts, eight clearances and a goal and Tom Cutler (36 disposals) was also busy, while Michael Hurley (10) got through a full game as he nears a farewell outing in the AFL. 

R20 medical substitute: Jye Menzie (replaced Caldwell)

Verdict: Parish to come in for Caldwell and McGrath to replace the unlucky D'Ambrosio across half-back. – Dejan Kalinic

Andrew McGrath in action during Essendon's loss to Collingwood in round 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Change could on the cards in the Dockers' forward line after another disappointing performance. Regardless of whether Matt Taberner requires a WAFL stint, it is likely the Dockers will need an extra marking target this week to allow Griffin Logue to play in defence. Options include key forward Josh Treacy, who has recovered from illness and is available, and medium forward Sam Sturt, who is coming off a four-goal performance with Peel Thunder. Playing Lloyd Meek as a second ruckman rotating forward could be a consideration. Others who could energise the midfield and front half include standout WAFL performers Darcy Tucker (38 disposals and three goals) and Neil Erasmus (32 and one). Mitch Crowden (21 and four inside 50s) has also produced solid performances at the lower level, while Bailey Banfield is available after medi-sub duties. Nathan O'Driscoll (19 and five inside 50s) was excellent early in the season before a foot injury and has now played three games back.

R20 medical substitute: Bailey Banfield (unused)  

Verdict: Tucker and Sturt for Colyer and Schultz, with Erasmus as medical substitute. – Nathan Schmook

01:47 Mins
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WAFL Showreel, R15: Darcy Tucker highlights

Enjoy Darcy Tucker's standout WAFL performance for the Thunder

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Gary Rohan (concussion) has been ruled out. Rhys Stanley might run out of time to prove his fitness in time to face the Saints, but the club is yet to put a line through the ruckman for this weekend. Zach Tuohy will return after missing last week due to health and safety protocols. Nick Stevens (27 disposals) and Cooper Stephens (25 disposals) found plenty of the ball in the VFL, while Sam Simpson also impressed after overcoming the concussion issues that wiped out most of his season. Sam Menegola might also be considered after missing the past fortnight due to concussion and knee issues. 

R20 medical substitute: Brandan Parfitt (replaced Gary Rohan)

Verdict: Very hard to make changes to a side that has won 10 on the trot, with just Tuohy to come back in for Rohan. – Josh Gabelich

00:24 Mins
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Tuohy too good with classy finish

Zac Touhy's class was on display for all to see after this breathtaking finish during the third term

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After being a late withdrawal with a shoulder injury, Brandon Ellis should return to face Hawthorn in Launceston on Saturday. The Suns' VFL team had another strong win at the weekend, with Alex Davies having a big first half before fading out of the game, and Brayden Fiorini (35 disposals and two goals) continuing to dominate at the lower level. Sam Flanders (32 and two goals) handled his omission from the seniors in the best way possible.

R20 medical substitute: Hewago Oea (unused)

Verdict: Ellis for Rory Atkins. – Michael Whiting

00:34 Mins
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Ellis elevates teammates with courageous mark

Brandon Ellis takes a spectacular mark going back with the flight against Collingwood

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After interim coach Mark McVeigh's explosive comments at the weekend, the 22 he names to face Essendon on Saturday could be anything. Does he give the same team that was walloped by Sydney a chance at redemption after questioning whether some have checked out? Or will Tanner Bruhn, Jake Stein, Kieren Briggs and Jake Riccardi, who all showed flashes in the VFL, get called up? Co-captain Stephen Coniglio will return to bolster the midfield after being rested with soreness, while Jacob Wehr (calf) will miss through injury, but the rest is anyone's guess.

R20 medical substitute: Lachlan Keeffe (unused)

Verdict: Coniglio for Jacob Hopper, Briggs for Braydon Preuss, Stein for Wehr (with Harry Himmelberg playing forward). – Michael Whiting

00:49 Mins
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Cogs shows some wheels and steals opening show

Stephen Coniglio charges towards goal and buries a delightful opener

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Hawthorn will need to make a few changes this week due to injuries and the suspension of Changkuoth Jiath. Box Hill didn't play on the weekend, but Tom Phillips, Jai Serong and Ned Long were all named in the 26-man squad for the St Kilda game. Jackson Callow might be considered given the injury to Mitch Lewis. Max Lynch could also return for his first senior game since round 10, following the decision to send Ned Reeves under the knife. Daniel Howe was impressive for Box Hill last start and could get another opportunity in Sam Mitchell’s side. Jarman Impey is expected to return after being managed last weekend.

R20 medical substitute: Emerson Jeka (replaced Josh Morris)

Verdict: The Hawks will need to make at least three changes, possibly four if Jacob Koschitzke doesn't get up. Jarman Impey to return, along with Callow, Lynch and Long. – Josh Gabelich

Hawthorn's Max Lynch and Essendon's Sam Draper compete in the ruck during round eight at Marvel Stadium on May 7, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Demons have a decision to make on how to handle the return of James Harmes from the AFL's concussion protocols for Friday night's blockbuster against the Magpies. Jayden Hunt played in his absence, enabling Angus Brayshaw to move into the midfield. So, does an onballer come out of the side or does the recently re-signed Brayshaw return to half-back? Ben Brown is closing on a return to action following a knee issue, with Sam Weideman's place at risk after winning only one disposal last week. Luke Dunstan tore it up in the VFL, winning 42 disposals and kicking two goals, while Toby Bedford (17 disposals, three goals) and Kade Chandler (20 disposals, two goals) were also among the best. However, places are tight in Simon Goodwin's team.

R20 medical substitute: Kade Chandler (unused)

Verdict: Brown and Harmes to come into the side for Weideman and Hunt, with Brayshaw returning to the backline. – Riley Beveridge

Ben Brown in action during a Melbourne training session at Casey Fields on July 26, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Kangaroos should have Aidan Corr, Paul Curtis and Aaron Hall back from the AFL's health and safety protocols, while Flynn Perez will return from suspension. However, Jack Mahony and Lachie Young will be touch-and-go after testing positive to COVID-19 later than their teammates. Jackson Archer is battling a hip complaint, while Phoenix Spicer and Kayne Turner were only introduced late in last week's loss to the Bombers. They could find themselves on the outer this week. Tarryn Thomas returned from personal leave with 26 disposals and six tackles in the VFL and should return to the senior frame. Defensive duo Kallan Dawson and Josh Walker could find their spots in the 23 tough to retain, while Charlie Lazzaro could be forced into the sub role due to the stack of inclusions. Expect much-loved veteran Ben Cunnington to finally make his first appearance of the season through the VFL.

R20 medical substitute: Josh Walker (unused)

Verdict: Corr, Curtis, Hall, Perez and Thomas to return for Archer, Spicer, Turner, Dawson and Walker, with Lazzaro to shift into the sub role. – Riley Beveridge

Cameron Zurhaar celebrates a goal with Tarryn Thomas during North Melbourne's round 15 match against Adelaide at Blundstone Arena on June 26, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Power will consider handing young key position player Ollie Lord his debut against Richmond after an impressive month from the 197cm prospect playing as a key defender in the SANFL. The extra height will be valuable down back, but there is reluctance to bolster the ruck stocks, with Sam Hayes and Brynn Teakle pushing for elevation. Halfback/wingman Dan Houston will clear the AFL's concussion protocols in time to be available, while Riley Bonner will come out of health and safety protocols to also push for a recall. Small forward Orazio Fantasia is ready to play his first AFL game since last year's preliminary final after recovering from a quad injury.

R20 medical substitute: Willem Drew (unused)

Verdict: Bonner and Houston for McEntee and Byrne-Jones. – Nathan Schmook

Sam Hayes competes with Andrew Phillips during the Power-Bombers clash in round 11 on May 29, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Given Dylan Grimes' hamstring injury, the Tigers have two options. Josh Gibcus can be recalled to the side, with either himself or Noah Balta to play in defence, or Balta definitely plays defence and Maurice Rioli progresses from medi-sub to starting 22. Other players who might come under consideration include Ivan Soldo, who dominated the ruck in the VFL with 36 hitouts and six clearances, but the forward mix of Jack Riewoldt, Tom Lynch and Noah Cumberland worked well against Brisbane. Thomson Dow (29 disposals, nine clearances) may once again come into the selection frame, as will Jason Castagna (18 disposals, two goals).

R20 medical substitute: Maurice Rioli (replaced Dylan Grimes)

Verdict: Gibcus for Grimes. – Sarah Black

Injured Richmond captain Dylan Grimes looks disappointed against Brisbane in R20, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

Dougal Howard could return to combat Geelong's key forward stars Jeremy Cameron and Tom Hawkins on Saturday night, after missing the past month due to knee surgery. Sandringham has a bye on the weekend, but Zak Jones, Ryan Byrnes and Darragh Joyce were included in the 26-man squad against Hawthorn. Tom Campbell was named in the side before making way at the last minute for Mitch Owens, before Rowan Marshall produced his best performance of the season. Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera might also be considered. 

R20 medical substitute: Ryan Byrnes (unused)

Verdict: Howard to come in for Cooper Sharman. – Josh Gabelich

00:50 Mins
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Saints cop injury blow as Howard goes down

Dougal Howard is subbed out early in the third quarter after suffering a leg injury in these contests

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The Swans have won four on the trot and with no injuries it's hard to see them making a change to face North Melbourne. After sitting as the unused medical sub against GWS, Josh Kennedy then laced up the boots to gather 26 disposals in the VFL and continue applying pressure. Ben Ronke (20 touches and three goals) and Hayden McLean (three goals) also pressed their cases.

R20 medical substitute: Josh Kennedy (unused)

Verdict: Unchanged. – Michael Whiting

Josh Kennedy in action during Sydney's clash with Geelong in round two, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

The Eagles have one clear change to make, with mid-season recruit Jai Culley suspended. He will be replaced by champion forward Josh Kennedy, who returns from a week off to play his final match. That's where the Eagles could leave it after a fighting effort against Gold Coast and some valuable development for young players. There was a bye in the WAFL, but midfielders Greg Clark and Samo Petrevski-Seton are two who have put in recent performances worthy of consideration if more changes are made. Elliot Yeo will fall short in his bid to play in his premiership teammate's final game due to a hamstring injury.     

R20 medical substitute: Hugh Dixon (replaced Jai Culley)

Verdict: Kennedy for Culley. – Nathan Schmook

00:35 Mins
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Is Culley in trouble for this 'crude' contact?

Jai Culley may come under MRO scrutiny after collecting Noah Anderson high in this late act

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The big question will be whether the Dogs bite the bullet and bring in father-son Sam Darcy after his continued strong form at VFL level. The club has been careful not to rush him in, but he has shot the lights out at state league level and could be worth a shot as the Bulldogs' finals hopes hang on the line. Alex Keath was omitted last week and could also be in contention for a recall, while Hayden Crozier (ankle) and Anthony Scott (concussion) are tests to return this week. Adam Treloar will need to get through training on Thursday to be made available after his calf injury, while Lachie Hunter and Taylor Duryea played in the VFL last week and could be in contention.

R20 medical substitute: Lachie McNeil (unused) 

Verdict: Hunter, Duryea in for Robbie McComb, Riley Garcia. – Callum Twomey

02:01 Mins
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VFL Showreel, R19: Sam Darcy highlights

Enjoy Sam Darcy's standout VFL performance for the Bulldogs

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