All eyes are on match committee at West Coast, which will have to make at least six changes to the side that lost the western derby.
Plus the Giants and Suns will weigh up handing some young guns debuts.
Get all the latest Round 4 selection news and updates in AFL Team Whispers!
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‘Feel good story’ the rise of the Saints | 07:10
In-form ST KILDA wingman Mason Wood has been cleared to face the Gold Coast on Saturday night despite being listed as a test this week due to a shoulder concern.
Liam Stocker is also firming to take his place in the St Kida line-up with the pair training strongly with the main group at Moorabbin on Thursday.
It comes as the Saints have been dealt yet another injury blow, with Jimmy Webster set to miss at least five weeks due to a fractured cheekbone to add to the club’s casualties.
But asked about Wood’s availability against the Suns, St Kilda coach Ross Lyon declared he’ll “100 per cent” play despite not finishing the club’s in over Essendon.
“He‘ll train and play. It turned out to be lower grade, it just didn’t look good. he has been really important for us,” Lyon told reporters.
NORTH MELBOURNE will regain midfield duo Luke Davies-Uniacke and Jy Simpkin for the club’s Good Friday clash with Carlton on Friday afternoon after the pair missed the loss to Hawthorn through injury and suspension respectively.
Davies-Uniacke will have to pass a final fitness test on Thursday afternoon but is firming to take his place in Good Friday clash. The pair will significantly bolster the contest work of the Kangaroos which was a feature of their opening two wins of the season.
The Roos will be without key defender Griffin Logue for the Good Friday clash with the defender failing to overturn his one-match suspension at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.
With Ben McKay to miss another week, it leaves the Roos light on for key position prospects in defence. Mid-season draftee Kallan Dawson is a chances for a call up for the first time this season, while Aiden Bonar is a chance for a recall.
Meanwhile, CARLTON will be forced into two changes this week, needing to find replacements for both Blake Acres and Matt Owies from last week’s scrappy win over the Giants.
Hawks wary of winless Cats | 02:01
Owies has a low grade hamstring injury, while Acres will miss through suspension after the wingman received a one-match ban for a high bump on GWS small forward Brent Daniels.
Michael Walsh confirmed Sam Walsh won’t play for the Blues this week, but that the superstar is getting closer to a return, possibly as early as next week. The logical inclusion for Acres would be Lochie O’Brien , who has started as sub all three matches so far this season. The Blues could pull a selection surprise and hand a debut to draftee Jaxon Binns after some impressive early VFL form.
Voss also confirmed that Matthew Kennedy and Jack Martin will both spend another week on the sidelines with respective calf injuries. Josh Honey and Paddy Dow could also be considered.
GOLD COAST will have to find a replacement for Sam Flanders for Saturday night’s clash against the Saints after the club confirmed the severity of his knee injury.
Flanders was subbed out of his side’s impressive win over Geelong on Sunday after a player fell across his knee.
The Suns on Tuesday confirmed Flanders had injured his MCL and would miss around six weeks.
Rory Atkins (27 touches, 2 goals) and Brayden Fiorini (28 disposals, 3 goals) are in contention to return after big VFL outings, while the Suns could also re-call Charlie Constable.
The other option would be the club’s top 2022 draftee in Bailey Humphrey, who produced a stunning goal against Geelong’s VFL side as he collected 20 disposals, four tackles and three clearances.
ST KILDA’S in-form winger Mason Wood could still face Gold Coast this weekend after a positive report on his injured shoulder.
Amid his best-on-ground performance against Essendon – which included 27 disposals and 11 marks – Wood hurt his shoulder during a late collision on the wing.
But the Saints confirmed Wood was still a chance to line up against the Suns after a positive scan.
However the Saints will again be without defender Jimmy Webster, who suffered a fractured cheekbone in an accidental collision with teammate Dougal Howard during the Bombers clash. He’d only just returned from a broken hand.
Ben Paton, who was the sub against the Bombers, would be the most likely candidate to come into the 22.
Although the Saints could look at selecting Jack Bytel, who impressed with 34 disposals for Sandringham in the VFL.
Simpson laments horror injury toll | 01:23
WEST COAST is confident dual best and fairest Elliot Yeo will be available to face Melbourne on Sunday as the Eagles prepare to call upon an array of young players amid an injury crisis.
Yeo, who played just five games last season and hasn’t featured yet in 2023, was listed as a ‘test’ in the Eagles’ injury report, but will likely need to get through the club’s main training session on Thursday to be deemed available for selection.
Should he be fit, Yeo would be a welcome addition to West Coast, which will make ample changes for its Round 4 clash after the derby injury carnage.
Jamie Cripps (ankle), Luke Shuey (hamstring), Jeremy McGovern (hamstring), Campbell Chesser (knee), Liam Ryan (hamstring) and Alex Witherden (suspected concussion) will all miss, with Cripps, Ryan and McGovern all needing surgery.
“Unlike last season, we have much better availability amongst our squad after 14 AFL-listed players represented the WAFL Eagles in their win over Subiaco on Saturday,” Eagles football boss Gaving Bell said.
“We’re really confident in those players stepping up to play roles as required and, while we’ll do everything we possibly can to support our injured players’ welfare, the team and coaches led by Adam Simpson are quickly refocusing on taking on Melbourne.”
Of the players that could come into the side, you’d suspect Elijah Hewett is named in the starting 22 after being the sub in the derby.
Harry Edwards would be the best replacement for McGovern, although the key defender will undergo a fitness test later this week after sustaining an ankle injury during a marking contest at training on Tuesday. Josh Rotham would be another defensive option.
Greg Clark appears a certainty to come in, while Jack Petruccelle, Brady Hough, Xavier O’Neill and Jai Culley will also be considered.
MELBOURNE veteran James Harmes missed last week’s win over Sydney due to personal reasons, so whether he’s right to return against West Coast remains unclear.
The Demons are confident key forward Ben Brown will be fit to play after being subbed out with a back issue. And with Jacob van Rooyen impressing on debut, it means Tom McDonald might find it tough to come back into the side, despite kicking 2.2 from 20 disposals and 11 marks in the VFL.
Demons big start too strong for Swans | 02:34
GIANTS No. 1 pick Aaron Cadman will again be in the mix for an AFL debut after kicking three goals from 10 disposals and four tackles in the VFL.
But 2021 draftee and academy graduate Josh Fahey was just as impressive against the Blues’ VFL side, finishing with 43 disposals and 12 marks in a dominant display.
Cooper Hamilton was subbed out and could be vulnerable to losing his spot in the best 22, while it might be time to give James Peatling a look in the VFL. And the Giants could also consider dropping Jake Riccardi, who kicked two goals against Carlton but was the lowest rated player on the ground – which would open the door for Cadman.
However Giants coach Adam Kingsley said Cadman was “less likely this week” to make his debut despite his three-goal performance, but praised the continued effort of the number one pick.
Lesser known Pick 22 Max Gruzewski starred in the Giants’ VFL win with four goals, with Kingsley thrilled at the performance of the 192cm utility.
“(Gruzewski) missed the bulk of the pre-season with a knee injury, so for him to be able to come back ahead of schedule, first game back, really, and to have the impact he had, I was really impressed,” he said.
Is this the week ESSENDON has a look at key forward Patrick Voss in the senior team?
The Bombers rookie has kicked five and four goals from his first two VFL games this season. With Harry Jones kicking just one goal from his first three AFL matches, could Voss replace him?
Brandon Zerk-Thatcher should also be available to return, so whether he comes in for another key-position player or replaces the under-fire Dyson Heppell remains unclear.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti might be available for selection, but he’d be more likely to return via the VFL.
Nonetheless, Essendon won’t be able to select Matt Guelfi, who’s been ruled out for at least the next six weeks after scans revealed he’d suffered a high-grade hamstring injury.
Dangerfield denies Cats are ‘complacent’ | 02:18
GEELONG veteran Mitch Duncan is set to play his first AFL game of the season when his club takes on Hawthorn on Easter Monday.
He dual premiership Cat has been sidelined with a calf injury but is in line to return for Geelong’s must-win clash.
Duncan is likely to be joined by defender Jake Kolodjashnij, who’s been sidelined with concussion but played a full VFL game on the weekend to put himself in contention to return to the AFL side.
Kolodjashnij could replace fellow premiership backman Sam De Koning, who was subbed out on Sunday after a head knock.
Rhys Stanley (ribs) should be fit for selection after a training session on the Gold Coast, while Brandan Parfitt, who had 24 touches in a big VFL loss, is primed for another crack at senior level and Gary Rohan would be a strong chance to come into the 22 after kicking two goals against the Suns as the sub. Ollie Dempsey and Sam Simpson would also be in the selection mix.
HAWTHORN is hopeful star forward Chad Wingard will be available to play his first game since Round 1 after missing the past two weeks with a calf issue.
Wingard’s fitness remains up in the air, with his availability dependent on how he trains on Wednesday.
“I stood here last week and said he just has to get through training, and he just didn’t feel quite confident,” Hawks coach Sam Mitchell said.
“If he gets through training, then obviously he will be a welcome acquisition.”
Hawthorn used 186cm Fergus Greene as its sole key forward against North Melbourne, although Tyler Brockman and Newcombe were both also targeted to strong effect.
Ruck duo Ned Reeves and Lloyd Meek again struggled to have an impact when they pushed forward, leaving the Hawks contemplating a shift in team balance against the Cats.
“We need to try to find a way to score … the first two rounds we really struggled to hit the scoreboard … our inside 50s were not too bad,” Mitchell said.
“We’re looking for ways to kick a score. Even on the weekend, we only scored 80 points, so certainly that’s not something we’re saying is the finished product.”
Short ruled out for Bulldogs clash | 01:10
RICHMOND pair Dustin Martin and Jacob Hopper are set to return against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday, but the Tigers will remain without Jayden Short.
A lingering calf issue will keep the long-kicking wingman sidelined for at least another week after he missed Richmond’s loss to Collingwood along with Martin and Hopper.
Richmond physical performance manager Luke Meehan said Martin and Hopper had impressed on the track over the weekend and were expected to be available for selection after battling general soreness and a knee complaint respectively.
Meanwhile, Short will undergo a mini pre-season and possibly miss more weeks as the Tigers take no chances with the 27-year-old’s conditioning.
“Jayden will progress through a gradual running program and is unavailable in the short-term,” Meehan said.
“We’re putting in some strong rehab training to make sure that we get it right for the rest of the season.
“Dustin and Jacob trained strongly over the weekend and are available to play.”
Robbie Tarrant could come back into the side after he got through a VFL match unscathed in his return from a hip injury.
WESTERN BULLDOGS defender Taylor Duryea should be available for selection after missing the Round 3 win over the Lions due to illness.
And whether key defender Ryan Gardner has another game in the VFL or is elevated to the AFL this week remains unclear.
Dogs development coach Travis Varcoe said Gardner “pulled up well” from the VFL hit-out.
The Pies get creative in finding players | 01:42
COLLINGWOOD is likely to enter Thursday night’s match against Brisbane without a recognised ruckman after Darcy Cameron injured his medial ligament against Richmond in a blow that will sideline the emerging star for six to eight weeks.
Mason Cox was a late withdrawal from the Tigers clash with a haematoma from his rib injury, leaving the Magpies reliant on either untried SSP recruit Oscar Steene or a mix of their other key position players for at least two weeks.
Coach Craig McRae said he had been extremely impressed by Steene’s start at Collingwood, but he was reluctant to give the 19-year-old South Australian a baptism of fire at the Gabba on Thursday.
McRae said the Magpies would need to come up with a “creative” option to combat the Brisbane duo of Oscar McInerney and Darcy Fort, which could involve a three-way rotation of former Lion Dan McStay, Billy Frampton and Ash Johnson.
That would mean Reef McInnes likely comes in for Cameron.
BRISBANE veteran defender Daniel Rich is set to be available for selection for Thursday night’s match against Collingwood after missing the loss to the Bulldogs because of a quad injury.
And there’s doubt around whether Lions name two rucks to take on the Magpies, whose ruck injury issues have been well documented.
Darcy Fort came into the Lions side that lost to the Bulldogs, but was subbed out in the third quarter. With the Magpies unlikely to have a recognised ruckman for Thursday night’s game – and calls for Joe Daniher to spend a bit more time in the ruck to help him regain some form – Fort could be dropped.
If the Lions just went for one ruck, Fort could be replaced by one of Deven Robertson (23 disposals, 11 tackles, 1 goal) or Jarryd Lyons (31 touches, 7 tackles), who put their hands up for a re-call after strong VFL performances.
‘They look like 1st or 2nd year players’ | 03:25
NORTH MELBOURNE star midfielder Luke Davies-Uniacke will likely face a test on Thursday to determine whether he will play against Carlton on Friday afternoon.
Missing Davies-Uniacke and suspended co-captain Jy Simpkin, the Kangaroos were beaten around the stoppages against Hawthorn despite having a significant advantage in the contest in their opening two wins.
Simpkin will return from a one-week suspension, while Davies-Uniacke is considered more likely than unlikely to face Carlton.
But the Roos will have to find a replacement for Griffin Logue after the key defender’s one-match ban was upheld at the AFL tribunal on Tuesday night.
With Ben McKay to miss another week, Aiden Bonar is a strong chance to come back into the side, while mid-season draftee Kallan Dawson and ex-Giant Aidan Corr would also be in the mix.
Kangaroos coach Alastair Clarkson said he did not consider Pick 4 George Wardlaw to be available for senior selection, despite an impressive 24-disposal performance in the Kangaroos’ VFL win over Southport.
CARLTON will have to find a replacement for Blake Acres after the wingman’s one-match ban was upheld at the AFL tribunal.
The logical inclusion would be winger Lochie O’Brien, who has started as Carlton’s sub in all three matches so far this season. Or if Matt Kennedy is deemed fit to play, the Blues could go with an extra inside midfielder.
The mystery surrounds star midfielder Sam Walsh, who’s back in full training with the Blues. The club said it would be “guided by how Sam completes the full training program before confirming his return to play”.
Small forward Matt Owies won’t play due to a hamstring issue. If fit Jack Martin would come in for the Blues, while Josh Honey and Paddy Dow would be other options.
Logue loses bid to have ban overturned | 01:27
FREMANTLE will be without superstar Nat Fyfe again, as well as young gun defender Heath Chapman, for Saturday’s clash against Adelaide
Fyfe was given every chance to prove his fitness for last weekend’s derby before he was ultimately ruled out. Dockers football boss Peter Bell on Tuesday said the club won’t rush Fyfe back, with a return timeline still to be confirmed.
Meanwhile, Chapman will miss the next three to four weeks, according to Bell, after he was subbed out of the derby with a calf injury. That could mean Ethan Hughes moves back to defence, which would open up a midfield opportunity.
Matt Johnson impressed on debut as the sub during the derby, so he could be elevated into the starting 22. Or the Dockers could go for Will Brodie, who was dropped for the derby.
Dockers coach Justin Longmuir told 7 News Perth that Brodie had “embraced” the areas he needed to improve and “approached it the right way and he’ll work out those things and then work his way back into the team”.
ADELAIDE will need to replace emerging forward Luke Pedlar after he copped a one-game suspension for a dangerous tackle.
Sub Chayce Jones impressed late in the Showdown and could come into the starting 22, but star forward Darcy Fogarty is also a chance – although “everything would have to go right for him to be available this week”, according to Crows fitness boss Darren Burgess, as he recovers from a knee injury.
Jones replaced midfielder Sam Berry, who was subbed out of the Showdown with a calf issue. If Berry is unavailable, Harry Schoenberg would be a strong chance to return after his monster SANFL game against Port Adelaide: 3.1 from 34 disposals, eight marks, eight clearances and eight inside 50s. Although Matt Crouch (30 disposals), Jackson Hately (27) and Tyler Brown (26) would also be in the mix.
Wines defends under fire Hinkley | 01:12
PORT ADELAIDE could be boosted by the return of Trent McKenzie from an ankle injury for Saturday night’s match against Sydney.
If deemed fit, McKenzie could come in for Tom Clurey.
After Saturday’s Showdown loss, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Power made some unforced changes at match committee.
Xavier Duursma was subbed out of the game, while Riley Bonner was statless in the final term as the Crows kicked away and Darcy Byrne-Jones went at 57 per cent by foot, so they could be vulnerable too.
Jase Burgoyne would be a chance to come into the 22 after his 18 disposals in the SANFL, but Mitch Georgiades might spend another week out of the AFL side after one goal from 14 disposals against Adelaide’s SANFL team.
SYDNEY isn’t expected to make too many unforced changes for Saturday night’s clash against Port Adelaide, although Angus Sheldrick is banging down the door at VFL level with hauls of 29 and 34 disposals in his past two games.
The Swans have given Braeden Campbell and Harry Cunningham a good run across the first three rounds of the season, but both have been quiet in recent weeks.
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