WHO IS a chance to play in the preliminary finals?
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 ins and outs for the preliminary finals. Check it out.
A few fitness issues and selection headaches loom for Lions coach Chris Fagan ahead of Saturday night's preliminary final against Carlton. Key defender Jack Payne is battling to overcome an ankle injury, with veteran Darcy Gardiner his likely replacement after being held out of the VFL team at the weekend. Darragh Joyce is another option. Jack Gunston is also closing in on being available after missing the past three matches with a knee problem should the Lions want a taller forward line, while Jarryd Lyons, who won the VFL's J.J Liston Trophy on Monday night, is waiting in the wings should another midfielder be needed. - Michael Whiting
QF sub: Jarryd Lyons (replaced Deven Robertson)
Jarryd Lyons during Brisbane training at Brighton Homes Arena on September 12, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos
The Blues will welcome back Jack Martin (suspension) and Harry McKay (concussion) for Saturday night's preliminary final against the Lions. It will make for a difficult selection call for coach Michael Voss. A taller forward line could spell unlucky news for Matt Kennedy and David Cuningham, with Jesse Motlop likely to hold his place after an impressive finals campaign. Zac Fisher and Jordan Boyd could be considered in a smaller backline to cope with the Lions' fleet of speedy forwards, but the Blues like the hybrid nature of their defensive mix and have been satisfied by Caleb Marchbank's ability to play tall or small. Jack Silvagni (knee) is available, while Sam Docherty (shoulder) and Blake Acres (collarbone) are expected to be fit. Ollie Hollands was fantastic as the tactical sub in the semi-final and could retain that position to add some flexibility and much-needed run off the bench. – Riley Beveridge
SF sub: Ollie Hollands (replaced David Cuningham)
Harry McKay and Jack Martin celebrate a goal against Richmond in round one, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos
Nick Daicos will return for Friday night's preliminary final after recovering from the knee injury that ended his home and away season in round 21. The extra week off has helped the All-Australian bank extra work ahead of the clash against GWS, with Taylor Adams to miss due to a hamstring strain. John Noble was incredibly stiff to miss out on the qualifying final and may be considered to play a role on the Giants' fleet of small forwards. Fin Macrae and Billy Frampton were both included in the 26-man squad against Melbourne. - Josh Gabelich
QF sub: Jack Ginnivan (replaced Darcy Cameron)
Nick Daicos tackles John Noble at Collingwood training on September 15, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos
The Giants expect ruck Kieren Briggs (shoulder) to be fit to play in Friday night's preliminary final against the Magpies. In all likelihood, it will make for a relatively easy selection night for coach Adam Kingsley. The Giants are firing on all cylinders and have perhaps been September's form team, which could mean an unchanged side at the MCG. – Riley Beveridge
SF sub: Xavier O'Halloran (replaced Callum Brown)
Kieren Briggs leaves the ground with a shoulder injury during Greater Western Sydney's semi-final against Port Adelaide on September 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos
CARLTON has dropped four players from its starting 22 to face Brisbane in Saturday night's preliminary final, while the Lions will be without big defender Jack Payne.
Collingwood's second-year superstar Nick Daicos returns for the injured Taylor Adams, as expected, while Greater Western Sydney will take an unchanged starting line-up into Friday night's sold-out clash at the MCG.
The big news is at the Blues, who welcome back power forward Harry McKay (concussion) and Jack Martin (suspension). They have also recalled defender Jordan Boyd and brought last week's sub Ollie Hollands into the starting side.
The unlucky quartet making way are Matt Kennedy, Matt Owies and David Cuningham, as well as defender Brodie Kemp. All four have been named as emergencies, with one to play the substitute's role against the Lions.