Max King, Jack Ginnivan, Daniel Rich. Pictures: AFL Photos

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.

A season-ending foot injury for Jordon Butts means at least one forced change for the Crows after an outstanding Showdown win. Rookie James Borlase is a likely replacement, while young star Josh Rachele has served a two-match suspension and should come straight back in. From there it is matter of either rewarding the team's 47-point win against Port Adelaide or rewarding SANFL form, with midfielder Sam Berry the most obvious candidate to force his way in. Berry had 29 disposals and nine clearances, with the Crows recognising his consistency now at SANFL level. Wingman Brayden Cook booted three goals drifting forward and may be considered. – Nathan Schmook

R20 sub: Rory Sloane (replaced Jordon Butts)


The Lions will be without young defender Keidean Coleman for the trip to face Fremantle on Sunday after he suffered an eye injury late in the loss to Gold Coast. Coleman's absence could open the door for a Daniel Rich return, although Jaxon Prior has been playing well in the VFL and would also be a chance. Dynamic half-forward/midfielder Zac Bailey (calf) is expected back after two weeks out, while Darcy Fort would come in if regular ruckman Oscar McInerney fails to overcome an ankle niggle. Jack Gunston battled against the Suns (as did many), and recently showed the value a rest could give him. - Michael Whiting

R20 sub: James Tunstill (replaced Jaspa Fletcher)

Keidean Coleman is injured during the round 20 match between Gold Coast and Brisbane at Heritage Bank Stadium, July 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Blues will lose Adam Cerra (hamstring) for at least a fortnight, after suffering a low-grade strain on Friday night. It will put Paddy Dow in pole position to start in the 22 ahead of this Sunday's clash with the Saints, after a solid performance as the sub last week where he racked up nine disposals and four clearances in the final term alone. Jack Carroll (28 disposals, one goal) was among the best in the VFL, while Jaxon Binns (32 disposals, 11 marks) and Zac Fisher (30 disposals, four clearances) also impressed. Small forward Corey Durdin (shoulder) could return at some level this weekend, but don't expect too many changes from Michael Voss as the club seeks its seventh straight victory. - Riley Beveridge

R20 sub: Paddy Dow (replaced Adam Cerra)

Adam Cerra after the round 20 match between Collingwood and Carlton at the MCG, July 28, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Ash Johnson put his hand up for another shot at AFL level by kicking 4.4 from 14 disposals and eight marks in the VFL on the weekend. Nathan Kreuger and Will Kelly also kicked three goals each. Trent Bianco found plenty of the footy against Carlton's reserves, finishing with 32 disposals, while Josh Carmichael continued his strong form with 28 touches and six clearances. Billy Frampton was quieter than the week before, as was Jack Ginnivan who kicked a couple of goals against the Blues at Victoria Park. - Josh Gabelich

R20 sub: Will Hoskin-Elliott (replaced Mason Cox)


The Bombers have lost three straight games and five of their past six, but did have their chances against Sydney in round 20. Jake Stringer (foot), Sam Draper (hip) and Dylan Shiel (foot) all look set to miss again, while Alwyn Davey jnr (seven disposals) was quiet and was substituted, replaced by Will Snelling (10). Jake Kelly (15) was also used more on a wing. Elijah Tsatas (22 disposals, six clearances and five tackles) was solid in the VFL as he pushes for a debut, while Sam Weideman (25 disposals) was used in defence again. Kaine Baldwin (21) will also be an option as the Bombers look to get back to winning ways against West Coast. – Dejan Kalinic

R20 sub: Will Snelling (replaced Alwyn Davey jnr)

Elijah Tsatas during the round 18 VFL match between Williamstown and Essendon, July 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

A terrific win against Geelong at GMHBA Stadium means changes this week will be limited. Tall defender Brennan Cox is pushing to return from an ankle injury, but the form of Joel Hamling after such a long period out will make him difficult to drop. Fellow defender Heath Chapman is unlikely to be forced back in after limited WAFL minutes following a long-term hamstring injury. Continued opportunities for young players in the final rounds of the season could be a focus for the Dockers, bringing managed midfielder Matthew Johnson back in after a week off. Karl Worner, Bailey Banfield and Will Brodie all face fitness tests to make themselves available. – Nathan Schmook

R20 sub: Ethan Stanley (replaced Neil Erasmus in the fourth quarter)

Brennan Cox is dragged down during the round 17 match between Fremantle and Carlton at Optus Stadium, July 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Chris Scott will be forced to make at least two changes following injuries to Mark Blicavs and Tom Hawkins in Saturday's loss to Fremantle. Brandan Parfitt has been on the outer this season but put his hand up for another shot by amassing 40 disposals, six clearances and a goal in the VFL. Ollie Dempsey dominated against the Northern Bullants, booting 5.3 from 29 touches and 13 marks. Sam Menegola was named in the squad again before finishing with 28 disposals to continue his push for an AFL return. Esava Ratugolea has been squeezed out recently but performed well at GMHBA Stadium, along with Mitch Knevitt. - Josh Gabelich

R20 sub: Mark O'Connor (replaced Mark Blicavs)


Another must-win match for the Suns as they travel to Adelaide to take on the Crows on Saturday. It's hard to see interim coach Steven King making any changes following a strong win over Brisbane, although the VFL team is in great form, with Brayden Fiorini (32 disposals and a goal), James Tsitas (28) and Ben Long (22) all excelling against the Lions at the weekend. - Michael Whiting

R20 sub: Jy Farrar (replaced Elijah Hollands)


The Giants will be hopeful of regaining star midfielder Tom Green (hamstring) for Saturday night's crunch clash with local rivals the Swans. Key forward Jesse Hogan (quad) is also closing on a return and will play, should he make it through a fitness test later this week. The club's VFL side had the bye last week, so there is no exposed form to pick from at reserves level. Josh Fahey, Matt Flynn and Jacob Wehr were among the emergencies, though, while Nick Haynes was the sub. They will all be vying for selection, as the club chases an eighth straight victory and continues its surge towards finals. - Riley Beveridge

R20 sub: Nick Haynes (replaced Aaron Cadman)

Tom Green celebrates kicking a goal during round eight, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Sam Mitchell has options at Box Hill to consider this weekend after the loss to St Kilda. Jack Scrimshaw collected 31 disposals and 13 marks against Sandringham on Saturday. Ned Long was impressive with 25 touches, 10 tackles and nine clearances at Box Hill City Oval. Emerson Jeka continued his decent form with 20 disposals and nine marks, while Denver Grainger-Barras responded to being dropped with 5.2 from 11 disposals and six grabs in a strong showing back at VFL level. Ned Reeves will return from suspension while Karl Amon could also be available after missing the loss to the Saints. - Josh Gabelich

R20 sub: James Blanck (replaced Seamus Mitchell)


Tom Sparrow missed last week's match with calf tightness but is expected to return this week, with James Harmes most likely to make way. Casey has the VFL bye and the Demons may take the opportunity to rest some of their stars against lowly North Melbourne. High-profile recruit Brodie Grundy (31 hitouts, six tackles) spent the bulk of his time in the middle in the VFL on the weekend and could come back into the side if the Demons decide to give skipper Max Gawn the week off. Premiership defender Michael Hibberd is another option to return after he gathered 35 touches at the lower level. Fellow defender Adam Tomlinson was subbed out of the game on the weekend but is likely to keep his spot while Harrison Petty is firing in the forward line. – Alison O’Connor

R20 sub: Joel Smith (replaced Adam Tomlinson)

Brodie Grundy looks on prior to the round 19 match between Melbourne and Adelaide at the MCG, July 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The Kangaroos expect Josh Goater (knee) to be cleared to play in Sunday's clash with the Demons, despite being substituted out of last week's defeat. Callum Coleman-Jones (concussion) is likely to miss again, as he recovers from his second head knock of the year. Aiden Bonar (knee), Aaron Hall (Achilles) and Flynn Perez (knee) should all return at some level this weekend, but Liam Shiels (calf) and George Wardlaw (hamstring) are both still at least a week away. Ben Cunnington (24 disposals, nine clearances) was among the best at VFL level, while Charlie Lazzaro (23 disposals, four tackles) and Kallan Dawson (21 disposals, seven marks) also impressed. They will stake their claim for a recall in a side hoping to snap a 17-match losing streak. - Riley Beveridge

R20 sub: Jack Ziebell (replaced Josh Goater)

Ben Cunnington in action during a North Melbourne training session, July 6, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

The door would appear open for captain Tom Jonas to come back into the senior team to face Geelong on Saturday with the absence of Aliir Aliir through concussion protocols. Port will also be without Lachie Jones, who collided with Aliir against Adelaide, with Riley Bonner and Jase Burgoyne possible backline replacements. Willie Rioli will be back from suspension, while veteran Travis Boak could return to the 22 after being last week's sub. Ruckman Scott Lycett is also a chance to come back from a knee niggle and be available to face the Cats. - Michael Whiting

R20 sub: Travis Boak (replaced Lachie Jones)


The Tigers escaped Sunday's loss to Melbourne with no new injuries but expect at least two changes to face the Bulldogs this week, with Jayden Short ready to return from injury and Toby Nankervis from suspension. Substitute Matt Coulthard only had three disposals after coming on in the third quarter, but his first touch was a goal and he again lifted his teammates' energy levels. The man he replaced, Ben Miller, has been relatively quiet through the past month, but may be needed to help handle the Dogs' tall forwards. Noah Cumberland and Jacob Bauer are both available if Andrew McQualter wants to change around the attack, although the most likely to step aside, Rhyan Mansell, was strong against the Demons. - Howard Kimber

R20 sub: Matthew Coulthard (replaced Ben Miller)


St Kilda could regain Max King just a month after he dislocated his shoulder in round 17. The 23-year-old will need to prove his fitness later in the week but is a chance to face Carlton on Sunday. Bradley Hill is on track to play after missing the win over Hawthorn on Sunday. Tim Membrey returned in the VFL and could be in line for a recall. Jack Hayes has now played two VFL games and a practice match and could be ready for another chance at AFL level after recovering from a knee reconstruction. Nick Coffield and Tom Highmore were both impressive in the VFL on Saturday. - Josh Gabelich

R20 sub: Jade Gresham (replaced Zak Jones)


The sudden retirement of Lance Franklin this week and a calf injury to Dane Rampe means not for the first time this season, the Swans have a decision to make with their tall stocks. Hayden McLean could be moved from ruck to forward to replace Franklin if Tom Hickey's strong game in the VFL last week is enough for a recall, while swingman Aaron Francis should also come into the frame. Mid-season draftee Jack Buller (four goals) and Will Gould (three) both hit the scoreboard in the VFL last week and could be considered. Justin McInerney is also out for up to three weeks with a calf problem, with Dylan Stephens, Matt Roberts and Corey Warner all getting plenty of the footy in the twos to keep their names in the conversation. - Martin Smith

R20 sub: Ryan Clarke (replaced Lance Franklin)


Retiring club great Shannon Hurn is preparing to play the final two home matches so will probably be rested this week as Jeremy McGovern pushes to return from concussion. Game time for Elliot Yeo should also increase after just over a half last week, allowing promotion from the substitute role. Defender Josh Rotham is available to cover Hurn if McGovern doesn't become available. The WAFL side had a bye, but the form of Greg Clark one week prior (37 disposals and eight inside 50s) deserves consideration if there are midfield openings. - Nathan Schmook 

R120 sub: Elliot Yeo (replaced Rhett Bazzo)

Jeremy McGovern during the round 18 match between West Coast and Richmond at Optus Stadium, July 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Luke Beveridge will be hoping to regain Liam Jones for Friday night's important game against Richmond. The veteran defender hasn't played since breaking his arm against North Melbourne and will need to prove his fitness before being given the green light. James O'Donnell will be considered down back to help cover the losses of Josh Bruce and Alex Keath. Ed Richards missed the game in Ballarat due to illness but is expected to be available for selection. Oskar Baker was left out of the 23 and didn't play at any level due to the VFL bye. - Josh Gabelich

R20 sub: Rhylee West (replaced Alex Keath)