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2017: Round 2: Teams & In Game Discussions

Crows skipper Taylor Walker is set to return from a hamstring Injury to the lead the side to face Hawthorn at the MCG on Saturday. Walker was a late scratching for last weekend's season opener against Greater Western Sydney. Key Defender Jake Lever is also set to play his first senior game of the season. Lever missed the JLT Community Series with a hamstring injury, but got a run under his belt in a SANFL trial last weekend, finishing with 19 possessions and seven marks against Woodville-West Torrens. Veteran Scott Thompson had 14 disposals playing in the midfield and across half-back in his return from a shoulder injury. Uncapped midfielder Harrison Wigg continued to press his claims with 28 possessions. - Lee Gaskin

Following a first-up win against Gold Coast, Chris Fagan will be reluctant to make too many changes ahead of Saturday night's home match against Essendon, but he has one tough decision. Jack Frost is available after serving a one-match suspension, but squeezing him in past one of Harris Andrews, Dan McStay or Darcy Gardiner would be difficult after they performed so well. Perhaps a small defender will make way and McStay can swing forward. Hugh McCluggage (ankle) and Josh Schache (knee) did not play NEAFL at the weekend and will likely need at least one game at the lower level before being considered. - Michael Whiting

Young key forward Harry McKay staked his claim for a senior debut with a four-goal display in the Northern Blues’ practice match against Richmond last Thursday. McKay, pick No. 10 in the 2015 NAB AFL Draft, played in two JLT Community Series games after an injury-interrupted 2016 season. Nick Graham (18 disposals and a goal) and Rhys Palmer (15 disposals) performed well in the midfield to put themselves in the frame for selection. – Howard Kotton

Livewire forward Jamie Elliott has been ruled out for another week, with the Magpies deciding not to gamble on his lack of match conditioning for the clash with Richmond at the MCG on Thursday night. A one-match suspension to Travis Varcoe will force the Magpies to make at least one change to the team that last week challenged the reigning premiers, the Western Bulldogs, and the most likely replacement would appear to be either James Aish, who was a late withdrawal last week with illness, or fellow midfielder Tim Broomhead, who was an emergency. Other candidates who performed strongly in a VFL practice match against Footscray include ex-Demon defender Lynden Dunn, fellow backman Matthew Scharenberg, father-son draftee Josh Daicos and exciting forward Kayle Kirby (three goals). - Ben Collins

It is hard to see the Bombers making too many changes to their round one side, which was too strong and too quick for Hawthorn at the MCG. There is much stronger depth at Essendon this season than in recent years, so if a Bomber or two are struggling to get up after their big hit-out then there should be some ready-to-go replacements. Ben Howlett and Heath Hocking missed selection last week but could come in against the Brisbane Lions, while James Stewart, Jackson Merrett and Josh Begley won't be too far away from selection. Tom Bellchambers is continuing his comeback from pre-season knee surgery, but might need more match practice before being available for the top level. - Callum Twomey

Ross Lyon didn't want to talk selection in the aftermath of Freo's loss to Geelong, however Matt Taberner could be an option to try to boost the Dockers' firepower after bagging five goals from 20 possessions for Peel against East Fremantle. Lyon conceded performances at WAFL level needed to be viewed in the context of a thumping 86-point win, but Harley Balic (33 disposals, one goal) continued his good form to keep his hand up for a debut. Smooth-moving Ethan Hughes offered plenty of rebound from half-back – an area the Dockers struggled in with their stagnant ball movement against Geelong - from his 14 kicks. Hayden Crozier kicked two goals for Peel but was quieter than in the Thunder's opening round win over East Perth, while Tommy Sheridan could come into consideration after being held over as the Dockers' emergency on Sunday evening. - Travis King

A thumb injury is the latest hurdle for Nakia Cockatoo, with the young midfielder set to miss up to a month after surgery this week. Cam Guthrie will be tested this week after failing to overcome calf soreness for Sunday's clash with Fremantle, while Zac Smith is a chance to play after soreness forced his late withdrawal from the round one team. Darcy Lang impressed in the VFL and will be in contention, along with Sam Menegola. Aaron Black and Jed Bews kicked two goals apiece in the VFL and have also pressed their cases. - Jennifer Phelan

It's an interesting week at the selection table for Rodney Eade after the Suns were beaten by the Brisbane Lions. David Swallow was a late withdrawal with an ankle injury, but is expected to be available to play Greater Western Sydney on Saturday afternoon. He'll likely replace Pearce Hanley, who is on indefinite leave, attending to a family matter in Ireland. Will Brodie and Brayden Fiorini may also come into the reckoning after strong pre-seasons and excellent performances in a NEAFL practise match at the weekend. - Michael Whiting

A hamstring injury for Tendai Mzungu could see young midfielder Jacob Hopper play his first senior game of the year. Hopper has had an interrupted pre-season after undergoing heart surgery late last year, and the Giants have taken it slow with the 20-year-old who has also had some lower back issues. Defender Nathan Wilson was a surprising omission from the Giants' round one side that lost to Adelaide, and should be a big chance to face Gold Coast, with his speed and foot skills from the backline sorely missed last week. Harrison Himmelberg is another defender who will be looked at, while forwards Sam Reid and Daniel Lloyd, who were added to the senior list last week, and draftees Will Setterfield and Harry Perryman, might also be an outside chance. - Adam Curley

Luke Hodge will be back this week. With his one-match club suspension now served he will make a timely and welcome return to a side that missed his leadership and composure against Essendon last week. One thing the Hawks appear to have in their favour is almost a full list to choose from, with the mercurial Cyril Rioli expected to overcome a corked thigh that hampered him through much of the loss to the Bombers. Team selection will be interesting. Do the Hawks recall key defender Kaiden Brand to help deal with the tall and potent Adelaide forward line? What about Brendan Whitecross for some extra toe in the midfield? And surely the likes of Teia Miles and Kade Stewart will soon be rewarded for their strong summers and the exciting Ryan Burton earns a recall. - Ashley Browne

Melbourne may be forced to make two changes to the team that had a commanding 30-point victory over St Kilda in round one. As reported by, young defender Joel Smith is set to be sidelined for up to four months after having shoulder surgery on Tuesday, meaning there is a spot open in defence. Important defender Bernie Vince is also out, after he accepted a one-match ban from the Match Review Panel for striking Nathan Wright. Midfielder Dom Tyson missed out on being selected in round one after a lack of pre-season conditioning due to a knee issue, but he gave the match committee something to think about with 24 disposals, 16 inside-50s and two goals in a VFL practice match against Port Melbourne. Creative half-forward Dean Kent (20 disposals) also impressed, while versatile defenders Josh Wagner, Sam Frost and Tom Bugg are others likely to come into the selection mix. The Demons insist spearhead Jesse Hogan (rolled ankle) and Max Gawn (back) will be fit to take on the Blues at the MCG on Sunday. - Ben Guthrie

The Roos' priority this week will be settling on a replacement for injured spearhead Jarrad Waite. Majak Daw is the frontrunner, but second-year key forward Ben McKay could be considered after playing North's first two JLT games, while first-year tall Nick Larkey kicked three goals for Werribee in a VFL practice match on Sunday. Roos coach Brad Scott suggested changes would be made for round two even before Waite's injury was diagnosed. Senior midfielder Ben Cunnington will return from a one-match suspension, while others in contention for a call-up include forwards Taylor Garner, Jed Anderson and Corey Wagner, who returned from a shoulder injury in a VFL practice match last Saturday, second-year midfielder Ryan Clarke and defenders Ed Vickers-Willis and Sam Durdin. Experienced defender Sam Wright did not play in Saturday's VFL practice match and will probably need more game time before he returns for the Kangaroos. - Nick Bowen

The Power will have a welcome selection headache ahead of Sunday's game with Fremantle at Adelaide Oval. Jarman Impey, Nathan Krakouer and Aidyn Johnson are available after serving one-game suspensions for the Power's season-opening win over Sydney at the SCG. Experienced duo Angus Monfries and Matt White had a run in the club's SANFL trial against Sturt last Thursday as they build their match fitness after injury-interrupted pre-seasons. Midfielder Joe Atley travelled with the Power as the team's emergency last weekend, but it will be hard to make many unforced changes to a winning team. - Lee Gaskin

If there was a weak spot in Richmond's 43-point win over Carlton it was the backline, conceding 14 goals to an inexperienced Blues' attack. This is also where the Tigers' depth is, with Jayden Short (16 games in 2016) available and in good touch in a VFL practice match on Thursday. Oleg Markov and Nathan Drummond are also options as versatile defenders, but Short would be the first player called on as a replacement for Taylor Hunt, who would be the defender most under pressure if a change is made. In attack, Sam Lloyd had an off night and the match committee could consider bringing in Ben Lennon, who was lively and kicked three goals in Thursday's VFL curtain raiser, if it decides an immediate change is needed against Collingwood. Midfielder Anthony Miles was surprisingly overlooked in round one, but it's hard to see a midfield vacancy for him to take at the moment. – Nathan Schmook

A disappointing loss to Melbourne was compounded by Nick Riewoldt's right knee injury. The obvious replacement for the former captain is Paddy McCartin. He booted three goals in an excellent display for Sandringham and sat out the last quarter of the practice match against Port Melbourne. McCartin was cleared to play against the Demons but "hamstring awareness" meant coach Alan Richardson didn't want to risk the former No.1 selection. Leigh Montagna picked up 18 disposals in the backline and midfield for the Zebras before he also sat out the final term. The 33-year-old looked in fine touch and should be fit to make the flight to face West Coast on Saturday, after a right calf strain kept him out of round one. Blake Acres and Jack Sinclair are another two who could add more midfield depth on the large expanses of Domain Stadium. - Dinny Navaratnam

With All Australian defender Dane Rampe (broken arm) sidelined for at least the next month, exciting youngster Aliir Aliir looks to be the obvious replacement. The athletic big man is fully recovered from a pre-season toe injury and has had another full week of training to build more fitness and touch. Draftee Will Hayward and recently upgraded rookie Shaun Edwards are in line to replace the unlucky Daniel Robinson, who broke his left collarbone against Port Adelaide last week, the second time in as many seasons. Defender Nic Newman must also be a chance to debut after backing up his outstanding 2016 season with some solid form over summer, and his inclusion could see NAB AFL Rising Star winner Callum Mills pushed into the midfield. Mature-age ruckman Darcy Cameron (finger) should be fit to play the premiers, with fellow big man Callum Sinclair another pushing for selection, along with Jack Maibaum and rookie Robbie Fox. Small forward Tom Papley (knee) should be taken off the long-term injury list this week but will need some games in the NEAFL before he's considered. - Adam Curley

The Eagles' ruck curse has struck again. Drew Petrie – who missed only one game for North Melbourne in the past five seasons due to suspension – suffered a broken hand in the opening term against his old club and will miss weeks, opening the door for Jonathan Giles to partner Nathan Vardy in the ruck against St Kilda. West Coast still has decisions to make in defence after only taking two talls into the win over North Melbourne and looking vulnerable in the air. Will Schofield didn't play at the weekend after flying to Melbourne as the travelling emergency, but Tom Barrass (19 disposals, four marks) swept up well in defence in East Perth's loss to stay in the mix. Dom Sheed (23 disposals, four inside 50s) found plenty of ball for the Royals after being left out of the Eagles' side and Liam Duggan (24) continues to build his form, although it remains to be seen if either did enough to force their way into the AFL side. Rookie Francis Watson (26) was again one of East Perth's best and a debut might not be far away for the dashing half-back. - Travis King

Luke Beveridge will have to make at least one change for Friday night's Grand Final rematch with the Sydney Swans at Etihad Stadium with defender Dale Morris to miss up to eight weeks with a broken leg. Marcus Adams should come into contention as the veteran's replacement. Midfielders Clay Smith, Lukas Webb, Bailey Dale, Josh Dunkley and Mitch Honeychurch all had plenty of the footy in Footscray's big VFL practice match win over Collingwood. Ruckman Tom Campbell was also a standout in his first game for a month in his return from a rolled ankle. – Ryan Davidson

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2017: Round 2: Teams & In Game Discussions


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