L-R: Adam Cerra, Rory Laird, Elijah Tsatas. Pictures: AFL Photos

WHO IS a chance to play in round 20?

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 R20 ins and outs. Check it out.

Gun midfielder Rory Laird is pushing to return from a shoulder injury this week and looks a strong chance of getting up for the Showdown. The Crows face at least two forced changes after injuries to Nick Murray (knee) and Izak Rankine (hamstring), bringing Ned McHenry into the mix after he missed last week because of illness. Jake Soligo should also be considered after impressing in the SANFL with 27 disposals and a goal. Max Michalanney was managed last week and has the ability to play tall if needed and help cover Murray's role. Forward Lachlan Gollant booted six goals in the SANFL to push his case, while midfielder Sam Berry had 10 tackles and seven clearances to go with his 19 disposals. – Nathan Schmook 

R19 sub: Jackson Hately (replaced Jordon Butts) 


The big question for the Lions ahead of facing Gold Coast on Saturday is who will replace Will Ashcroft following the youngster's devastating knee injury? Zac Bailey is still a chance to return from his calf niggle and would come straight back in, but if the dynamic midfielder/forward has to miss another week, Deven Robertson and Jarryd Lyons loom as the likely candidates. Nakia Cockatoo could also be considered if Brisbane wanted a half-forward, following his strong recent form in the VFL. - Michael Whiting

R19 sub: Kai Lohmann (replaced Will Ashcroft)


It will be a big week at the selection table for the Blues ahead of Friday night's huge blockbuster against the high-flying Pies. They will lose Sam Walsh (hamstring) for the next fortnight, but Adam Cerra (hamstring) and Patrick Cripps (cork) could return provided they pass fitness tests later this week. Jack Silvagni (knee) will also go out of the team, but Marc Pittonet (knee) could return to shoulder some of the ruck load after winning 16 disposals and 18 hitouts in the VFL last week. Lewis Young was the sub against the Eagles and will provide another option. The small forward stocks are running low, with Corey Durdin (shoulder), Matt Owies (calf) and Jack Martin (calf) no certainties to return and with Jesse Motlop (calf) finishing last week's match on the bench. All will undergo fitness tests later this week. Zac Fisher (hamstring) is fit and could be an option, while Josh Honey was a late inclusion last week and could hold his place. Jordan Boyd (suspension), Matt Kennedy (knee) and Harry McKay (knee) are all still out, adding to an already lengthy injury list. Caleb Marchbank (29 disposals, 10 marks), Jaxon Binns (34 disposals, one goal) and Lochie O'Brien (28 disposals, 10 marks) were among the best in the VFL and will all be in the frame. - Riley Beveridge

R19 sub: Lewis Young (replaced Jack Silvagni)

Patrick Cripps looks on during the R19 match between Carlton and West Coast at Marvel Stadium on July 22, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

Craig McRae and the match committee inside Collingwood has plenty to think about this week. The Magpies are at full strength and have players queuing up in the VFL for another shot. Jack Ginnivan produced his best performance of the year to put his hand up, finishing with 29 disposals and 2.3 as he continues to spend more time higher up the ground in the reserves. Ash Johnson kicked two goals after being squeezed out, despite kicking six goals in the previous fortnight. Josh Carmichael was impressive again with 29 disposals and seven clearances. Billy Frampton finished with 17 touches and seven marks after being left out of the 23 against Port Adelaide. – Josh Gabelich

R19 sub: Oleg Markov (replaced Tom Mitchell) 


The Bombers will be forced into at least one change for Saturday night's crucial clash against Sydney with Jordan Ridley (quad) set to miss at least a month, but others seem likely after a second straight disappointing performance in the loss to the Western Bulldogs last week. Jye Menzie (19 goals in 2023) should get a recall after being unfortunate to be dropped. Essendon's midfield got well beaten by the Bulldogs and it could pave the way for No.5 pick Elijah Tsatas (23 disposals, seven tackles and seven clearances in the VFL) to earn a debut. Sam Weideman (24 disposals and 13 marks) played in defence at the lower level, while Kaine Baldwin would shape as Ridley's replacement, but did play forward in Williamstown. Multiple changes could be coming for the Bombers as they look to boost their finals chances. – Dejan Kalinic

R19 sub: Nick Hind (replaced Nick Bryan)

Elijah Tsatas during the R18 VFL match between Essendon and Williamstown at DSV Stadium on July 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Dockers have three players pushing to return from injury against Geelong, with wingmen James Aish (quad) and Nathan O'Driscoll (calf) and forward Bailey Banfield (knee laceration) all facing tests later in the week. There is scope for change, too, after several disappointing performances against Sydney. Justin Longmuir has suggested he would stick with Luke Jackson as the No.1 ruckman, but big man Liam Reidy could push to play a support role from the forward line. There was a lack of strong WAFL performers to force more change, although debutant Ethan Stanley could be worth elevating into the 22 after impressing in his short period on the wing as substitute. – Nathan Schmook 

R19 sub: Ethan Stanley (replaced Matt Johnson) 

James Aish in action during the R16 clash between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on July 1, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Geelong has some options in the twos to consider if it wants to make changes after the loss to Brisbane. Sam Menegola was the carryover emergency in Queensland and could return for his first appearance of 2023 after strong recent VFL form. Mitch Knevitt collected 28 touches and six clearances against Brisbane's reserves, while out-of-favour midfielder Brandan Parfitt finished with 25 touches, seven clearances and seven tackles at Brighton Homes Arena. Esava Ratugolea played in the VFL after being included in the 26-man squad. Gary Rohan could be available after being a late out due to the ankle injury he suffered the week before. – Josh Gabelich

R19 sub: Oisin Mullin (replaced Tanner Bruhn)

Sam Menegola runs with the ball during Geelong's clash agains West Coast in round 14, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Interim coach Steven King stuck with a winning team after his first match in charge, so it'll be interesting to see what he does following a poor loss to Greater Western Sydney at the weekend. Brayden Fiorini (45 disposals) kept the pressure on with a big VFL performance, while Malcolm Rosas jnr (two goals from 26 touches) could be considered as a small forward option. Jeremy Sharp is also pressing his claims after a strong patch of form. - Michael Whiting

R19 sub: Jy Farrar (replaced Hewago Oea)

Brayden Fiorini during the R15 match between Gold Coast and Hawthorn at Heritage Bank Stadium, on June 25, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

The Giants likely wouldn't want to change too much, having won six straight matches – equalling a club record – heading into this Saturday's clash with the Dogs. The game will come too soon for Tom Green (hamstring) and Jesse Hogan (quad), who are on the injury list. Lachie Keeffe is a chance to return from a hamstring injury, while Conor Stone (13 disposals, three goals in the VFL) hit the scoreboard and could provide another option, but the Giants are likely to remain relatively settled amid their run of form. - Riley Beveridge

R19 sub: Josh Fahey (replaced Toby Greene)

Conor Stone in action during the R2 match between GWS and West Coast at Optus Stadium on March 26. 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Lloyd Meek is in the frame to return after spending time at Box Hill with Ned Reeves hit with a one-game suspension for a dangerous tackle. Max Ramsden could also be considered if he exits concussion protocols. Cam Mackenzie put his hand up for another senior opportunity with 27 disposals and eight clearances in Box Hill's win over Richmond on Saturday. Lachie Bramble and Harry Morrison both played well at Punt Road, while Cooper Stephens finished with 23 disposals and seven clearances after being named in Sam Mitchell's 26. Fergus Greene will need to prove his fitness this week after missing the loss to Richmond. James Blanck didn't come back into the senior side after exiting concussion protocols. Jai Serong has been building towards a senior shot. – Josh Gabelich

R19 sub: Ned Long (replaced Denver Grainger-Barras)

Lloyd Meek handballs during Hawthorn's clash against Carlton in round 16, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Brodie Grundy provided a strong forward presence with 1.3 as a key forward in Casey's VFL win over Coburg, but it remains unclear whether the Demons will give him more time to build his form in attack. Ben Brown, who had just five disposals in the narrow win against Adelaide and was subbed out for tactical reasons, would be the most likely to make way. Harrison Petty (ribs) will be considered for a return after missing the Crows clash, while Michael Hibberd (kidney) is an option to return to help quell Dustin Martin after gathering 30 disposals in the VFL. – Michael Rogers

R19 sub: Joel Smith (replaced Ben Brown)


The Kangaroos expect co-captain Jy Simpkin to return from his second concussion of the year for this Sunday's clash with the Eagles. Callum Coleman-Jones is also recovering from a second head knock and might need more time. Liam Shiels (calf) will miss at least the next fortnight, forcing at least one change. Tom Powell (knee) could return, while Charlie Lazarro (back) and Flynn Perez (knee) will also face fitness tests before determining their availability. The VFL side had the bye last week, so there is no exposed form to pick from. However, Hugh Greenwood and Robert Hansen jnr were among the emergencies and could be in the frame. - Riley Beveridge 

R19 sub: Jack Ziebell (replaced Liam Shiels)

Jy Simpkin at North Melbourne training at Xavier College on July 6, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Port will welcome back Darcy Byrne-Jones from concussion for Saturday night's Showdown against Adelaide. There's not likely to be too many other changes following the heartbreaking loss to Collingwood, although Riley Bonner and Jase Burgoyne were strong in the SANFL at the weekend. Forward Willie Rioli will miss this week's clash after having his two-match suspension downgraded to one at the Tribunal on Tuesday night. If Ken Hinkley wants to change his key defensive set-up, captain Tom Jonas responded well to his demotion at the lower level and could be considered. - Michael Whiting

R19 sub: Dylan Williams (replaced Scott Lycett)

Darcy Byrne-Jones walks off the ground during the R18 match between Port Adelaide and Carlton at Marvel Stadium on July 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Tigers could have some selection decisions to make with Jayden Short and Jacob Bauer, whose debut in round 17 was ruined in the early minutes, set to be available after hamstring injuries. Additionally, Matthew Coulthard (seven disposals) had an impact as the sub in the comeback win over Hawthorn, replacing Tylar Young (seven disposals), while Marlion Pickett (seven disposals and five tackles) was quiet. Noah Cumberland booted six goals in the VFL to push his claims for a recall, while Tyler Sonsie (23 disposals and a goal), Judson Clarke (19 and one) and Samson Ryan (10 and 33 hitouts) were also good. – Dejan Kalinic

R19 sub: Matthew Coulthard (replaced Tylar Young)


Ross Lyon might have some key forwards to consider for this Sunday's game against Hawthorn with Tim Membrey and Jack Hayes both on track to be available for selection. Hayes would have played against North Melbourne instead of Anthony Caminiti but suffered a minor hamstring setback, while Membrey has endured a nightmare run with his knee this year. Nick Coffield hasn't played since tearing his ACL last February, but the former top-10 pick fired with 28 touches in his VFL return. Ryan Byrnes was impressive for Sandringham against Collingwood after being dropped and could be considered with Bradley Hill ruled out. Liam Stocker was the carryover emergency after being axed for the first time at the Saints. – Josh Gabelich

R19 sub: Jack Billings (replaced Bradley Hill)

Tim Membrey kicks a goal during St Kilda's clash against Port Adelaide in round seven, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

With a near clean bill of health and back-to-back wins, the Swans may well take an unchanged side into their game against Essendon. The absence of Bombers ruckman Sam Draper may convince Sydney to persist with Hayden McLean and Joel Amartey in the ruck, which would again leave Peter Ladhams - who is still experiencing some discomfort in his ankle - and Tom Hickey on the outer. Callum Mills and Lance Franklin are sore but are both expected to play, while young midfielder Matt Roberts could be considered after returning from injury in the VFL a fortnight ago. - Martin Smith

R19 sub: Ryan Clarke (replaced Joel Amartey)

Tom Hickey and Peter Ladhams during Sydney's training session at the SCG on April 20, 2023. Picture: Phil Hillyard

A winnable game this week against North Melbourne could see the Eagles recall multiple senior players as defenders Tom Barrass (shoulder) and Jeremy McGovern (concussion) push to be available, with McGovern considered more likely after training on Tuesday. Midfielder Elliot Yeo (hip) is also in the mix and could be used in a backline role. The loss of Luke Shuey from the midfield could open an opportunity for one of Greg Clark (37 disposals and eight inside 50s in the WAFL) or Zane Trew (32 and a goal), with both excellent at the lower level. Young midfielder Luke Edwards (19 and a goal) is also available after his second game back from injury. - Nathan Schmook  

R19 sub: Xavier O'Neill (replaced Luke Shuey)

Jeremy McGovern during the R18 match between West Coast and Richmond at Optus Stadium on July 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

After missing the past eight games, Jason Johannisen is ready to return against Greater Western Sydney this weekend. James O'Donnell is also expected to be available for selection after missing last Friday night's win over Essendon due to concussion. Footscray annihilated the Northern Bullants and a handful of players hunting a recall fired. Rory Lobb slotted five goals at Preston, while Toby McLean finished with 34 disposals, eight clearances, eight tackles and 3.3. Riley Garcia gathered 29 touches and kicked two goals and Jordon Sweet dominated in the ruck with 50 hitouts, 23 touches, two goals and nine tackles. – Josh Gabelich

R19 sub: Bailey Williams (replaced Oskar Baker)