Charlie Dixon, Bailey Smith and Josh Dunkley. Pictures: AFL Photos

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.

There will be at least one forced opening for the Crows this week after Josh Rachele was suspended for striking, opening the door for young midfielder/forward Jake Soligo to return after a week out of the team. After back-to-back losses, however, more change is expected after the Crows hinted at rewarding SANFL form. Dashing defender Luke Nankervis has been a consistent performer at SANFL level and is pushing to make his debut, while Elliott Himmelberg (four goals) and Lachie Gollant (two) are forward options. In the midfield, Harry Schoenberg (29 disposals and two goals) deserves another go. Sam Berry spent time both midfield and forward when in the SANFL before a nasty flu, which he has now recovered from. – Nathan Schmook 

R18 sub: Ned McHenry (replaced Shane McAdam) 


The Lions will be hopeful Josh Dunkley returns to play Geelong on Saturday after missing two matches with a calf injury. The midfield ace trained on Tuesday and appears a good chance to play if he gets through the main session on Thursday. Although the VFL team had a bye at the weekend, the pressure for spots from beneath is fierce, with Callum Ah Chee and Kai Lohmann recently showing good signs at senior level, while Daniel Rich has now played one match at the lower level following his four-week training block. – Michael Whiting

R18 sub: Deven Robertson (replaced Jarrod Berry)

Josh Dunkley kicks the ball during the match between Hawthorn and Brisbane at the MCG in round 13, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The Blues remain hopeful Harry McKay (knee) will play again this season, though it could depend on making finals. Don't expect drastic positional changes to accommodate for his absence, given the side's recent run. Expect midfielder Adam Cerra (hamstring) to be managed against the hapless Eagles, which could mean a long-awaited start for Paddy Dow. Running defender Jordan Boyd will miss a significant period through suspension. The VFL side had the bye last weekend, but youngsters Ollie Hollands, Jaxon Binns and Lachie Cowan loom as potential replacements. Jesse Motlop proved a handy inclusion for Matt Owies (calf) last week, while Corey Durdin (knee) and Zac Fisher (hamstring) should return at some level this weekend. Marc Pittonet (knee) is another on the cusp of a comeback, but Jack Silvagni's hot run of form will allow Michael Voss to be patient with the ruckman's recovery. – Riley Beveridge

R18 sub: Paddy Dow (replaced Harry McKay)


Collingwood could regain Brody Mihocek and Darcy Cameron for this weekend's trip to South Australia to face Port Adelaide. The Magpies had a VFL bye last weekend, but Fin Macrae, Jack Ginnivan and Harvey Harrison were all included in the 26-man squad against the Dockers. Macrae couldn't have done much more this season to get a game, but midfield spots are tough to grab. Josh Carmichael has also been in strong form at VFL level. - Josh Gabelich

R18 sub: Tom Mitchell (replaced Scott Pendlebury)

Brody Mihocek during a Collingwood training session at Olympic Park Oval on July 5, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Bombers will be out to bounce back from their disappointing loss to Geelong in what is a massive Friday night clash against the Western Bulldogs. Andrew Phillips is available after his suspension and will partner or replace Nick Bryan, who was the Bombers' highest rated player in Geelong, with Sam Draper (hip) still sidelined. Jayden Laverde (ankle) must prove his fitness to be available, while Dylan Shiel (foot) will miss again. Sam Weideman (10 disposals, four marks) went goalless for a seventh straight game as pressure continues to build on his spot, although he was one of many below their best at GMHBA Stadium. Nik Cox had 12 disposals and kicked a goal against Geelong in the VFL before being rested for the second half, with a first AFL appearance since round seven last year getting closer. No.5 pick Elijah Tsatas starred with 31 disposals and 11 clearances against the Cats as he continues to push for a debut, although that appears unlikely to come this week. Kaine Baldwin (26 disposals, 12 marks) looms as Laverde's likely replacement if the latter is ruled out. – Dejan Kalinic

R18 sub: Nick Hind (replaced Jayden Laverde)


The Dockers face a decision between reverting to the Luke Jackson-Josh Treacy ruck combination in the absence of Sean Darcy or bringing in 204cm big man Liam Reidy against Sydney for his first AFL game. Exposing Reidy if he is ready would help the Dockers preserve their ideal forward structure after it was heavily compromised the last time Darcy missed in back-to-back losses. Calling on a third tall forward, like Josh Corbett, is the alternative with Matt Taberner (back) expected to play limited WAFL minutes if ready. Vice-captain Caleb Serong is a significant inclusion after missing one match through suspension, while defender Hayden Young (ankle) and half-forward Michael Frederick (quad) will push for selection. Nathan Wilson is an option to replace the injured Brandon Walker if the Dockers prefer not to move James Aish from the wing. – Nathan Schmook

R18 sub: Nathan O'Driscoll (replaced Brandon Walker) 

Hayden Young handballs during the R17 match between Fremantle and Carlton at Optus Stadium on July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong managed Esava Ratugolea and Zach Tuohy against Essendon on Saturday night and has a selection squeeze after a massive win over Essendon at GMHBA Stadium. Sam Menegola is hunting a spot in the 23 for the first time in 2023. The veteran collected 31 disposals against Essendon's reserves on Sunday, while Ollie Dempsey finished with 23 disposals and four clearances. Mid-season recruit Mitch Hardie has impressed since arriving at the club in June. - Josh Gabelich

R18 sub: Oisin Mullin (replaced Patrick Dangerfield)

Sam Menegola in action during the R15 VFL match between Geelong and Sydney at the SCG on June 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fresh off a win over St Kilda, it's unlikely the Suns will make too many, if any, changes to face Greater Western Sydney on Sunday. Confirmation Lachie Weller will need a second knee reconstruction ensures he won't be back for the remainder of the season in a big blow. The VFL team had a bye, but Jeremy Sharp has been in scintillating form and could be considered, as could Charlie Constable, while Mabior Chol has played well recently and would be in the frame if the Suns decide to rest Levi Casboult, which they've done three times already this season. – Michael Whiting

R18 sub: Brayden Fiorini (replaced Hewago Oea)


The in-form Giants are hopeful of regaining Finn Callaghan (hip) for Sunday's clash with the Suns, though he'll need to pass a fitness test later this week. Nick Haynes should come back into contention after serving his one-match suspension. Harry Rowston (22 disposals, six tackles) was among the best at VFL level, while Cam Fleeton (25 disposals, 13 marks) was also impressive. Tom Green (hamstring) is still a fortnight away, while there is renewed hope that ruckman Braydon Preuss (back) could still play again this season. – Riley Beveridge

R18 sub: Josh Fahey (replaced Aaron Cadman)


James Blanck is expected to be available after missing last week with concussion. Seamus Mitchell was managed after earning a Rising Star nomination and could return. Max Ramsden was a late out due to illness and could replace Lloyd Meek, who took his spot against North Melbourne. Harry Morrison was included in the squad and went back to Box Hill and performed strongly with 24 disposals and a goal. Jai Serong was impressive again, along with Bailey Macdonald and Ned Long. Unfortunately, Changkuoth Jiath will miss again due to another soft tissue setback. Fergus Greene will need to prove his fitness later in the week after hurting his knee against the Kangaroos. - Josh Gabelich

R18 sub: Denver Grainger-Barras (replaced Fergus Greene)


Melbourne is unlikely to make any unforced changes after producing one of its best showings of the season against Brisbane. Casey had the bye at the weekend so there's also no exposed form to draw from at the lower level. The only question mark hangs over defender Harrison Petty, who was subbed out for a second week with a rib injury, and is no guarantee to be fit for Sunday's clash with the Crows. If Petty doesn't get up, expect Adam Tomlinson to get another run at the top level. Michael Hibberd (kidney) played his first full game back in the VFL scratch match against Sandringham and could also be a chance to return. – Alison O'Connor

R18 sub: Joel Smith (replaced Harrison Petty)

Adam Tomlinson kicks whilst being tackled by Brody Mihocek during the match between Melbourne and Collingwood at the MCG in round 13, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

A bruised Kangaroos side will lose George Wardlaw (hamstring) for much of the next month, while Cam Zurhaar (ankle) is no certainty to play again this season. Callum Coleman-Jones (concussion) won't play for the next period after his second head knock of the campaign, making for at least three enforced changes ahead of Sunday's clash with the Saints. Todd Goldstein (28 disposals, 11 marks, 35 hitouts) should be his replacement after an impressive day at VFL level last weekend. Fellow veteran Aaron Hall (43 disposals, 11 marks) also staked his claim for a recall, while Jack Ziebell could come back into contention after acting as the substitute again last week. Charlie Lazarro (28 disposals, seven marks) and Will Phillips (24 disposals, five tackles) will also be in the selection frame, while Hugh Greenwood (24 disposals, 13 tackles) could give the side's midfield a hardened edge. Jackson Archer (hamstring), Flynn Perez (knee) and Liam Shiels (ankle) will all face fitness tests later in the week, while a timeframe for co-captain Jy Simpkin (concussion) is still to be determined after two head knocks in a short space of time. – Riley Beveridge

R18 sub: Jack Ziebell (replaced George Wardlaw)


So many decisions for Ken Hinkley ahead of Saturday night's top-of-the-table clash against Collingwood at Adelaide Oval. Port is hopeful Charlie Dixon (ankle), Jason Horne-Francis (back) and Trent McKenzie (ankle) could be back after missing the loss to Carlton. Willie Rioli is expected to resume his place in the 22 after returning to the Tiwi Islands at the weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of his father's passing. Ryan Burton, who was the sub against the Blues, could be a replacement for concussed Darcy Byrne-Jones, while midfield ace Zak Butters (groin) has all eyes on him this week after not playing the final quarter last Saturday. – Michael Whiting

R18 sub: Ryan Burton (replaced Darcy Byrne-Jones)


The Tigers got through the win over West Coast with a clean bill of health and don't have any senior players returning from injury, so any changes will come down to form. Maurice Rioli jnr was the subject of scrutiny after his obvious frustration when subbed out of the game, recording just six disposals but providing plenty of pressure. What might compound things for the small forward was strong games from both Rhyan Mansell (25 and two goals) and Noah Cumberland (14 and two) in the VFL. – Sarah Black

R18 sub: Hugo Ralphsmith (replaced Maurice Rioli)


St Kilda has injury and form issues right now but could regain Jack Higgins for Sunday's game against North Melbourne. Higgins has missed the past fortnight with a knee injury and will need to prove his fitness later in the week. Jack Bytel was strong last outing at VFL level. Ben Paton is another option, while Jack Hayes is building match fitness after returning from a knee reconstruction. - Josh Gabelich

R18 sub: Hunter Clark (replaced Mattaes Phillipou)

Jack Higgins celebrates a goal during the R15 match between St Kilda and Brisbane at Marvel Stadium on June 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Star midfielder Chad Warner is set to return against Fremantle, while Jake Lloyd should also be back provided he clears concussion protocols. Tom Hickey performed well in the VFL last week and Peter Ladhams is fit again after his ankle injury, with the fitness of Dockers ruckman Sean Darcy likely to determine Sydney's ruck set-up for the trip west. Aaron Francis is set to return in place of the injured Lewis Melican, while tough midfielder Matt Roberts could also win his spot back after some good VFL form. Co-captain Dane Rampe had his two-match suspension overturned at the Tribunal on Tuesday night and is free to play this week. - Martin Smith

R18 sub: Ryan Clarke (replaced Lewis Melican)


Jack Petruccelle was a late omission with a corked calf last week but should be available to return as the Eagles look to replace injured midfielder Reuben Ginbey (hamstring). West Coast ended Sunday's match against Richmond with plenty of sore bodies but finally have options if there are more forced changes. In the midfield, Luke Edwards is a likely option for more AFL exposure, while young defender Rhett Bazzo is available and the best option to replace Jeremy McGovern (concussion). The decision to start Andrew Gaff as the substitute and then play him as an inside midfielder to cover Ginbey worked well and got a spark out of the veteran. He deserves elevation into the 22 this week. Other options in the WAFL are Xavier O'Neill (32 disposals and 10 inside 50s), Greg Clark (23 and five marks), Luke Foley (24 and four tackles) and Isiah Winder (27 and seven marks), who played in defence in his return from injury. – Nathan Schmook  

R18 sub: Andrew Gaff (replaced Reuben Ginbey) 

Jack Petruccelle in action during West Coast's clash against Brisbane in round 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Beveridge will be forced to make at least three changes after Lachie McNeil and James O'Donnell entered concussion protocols following incidents at the SCG, while Sam Darcy will be sidelined for multiple weeks with a corked quad. Bailey Smith is set to return on Friday night after missing the game against Sydney due to illness. Rory Lobb will be considered to replace Darcy after being dropped last week. Oskar Baker is in the mix again after kicking three goals from 22 touches in the VFL. Harvey Gallagher is closing in on a debut after finishing with 29 disposals and two goals for Footscray, while Toby McLean played his best game in some time, collecting 28 touches and four clearances. Buku Khamis kicked four goals for the third time this season and is now up to 27 for the year, but is yet to play at AFL level in 2023.  - Josh Gabelich

R18 sub: Riley Garcia (replaced James O'Donnell)