AFL Rd 18 - North Melbourne v West Coast
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 17: Josh J. Kennedy of the Eagles is seen on the bench after he sustained an injury during the round 18 AFL match between the North Melbourne Kangaroos and the West Coast Eagles at Metricon Stadium on September 17, 2020 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

We're over a third of the way into the 2022 AFL season, with contenders and pretenders now more noticeable after the opening eight rounds of the year.

Ahead of Round 9 we take a look at all the selection news, with players pressing their case for returns while others are out to prove their fitness.

For all listed injuries, visit our INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS page.

Close watch on Kennedy in build-up to Demons game

West Coast forward Josh Kennedy is no certainty to feature in Sunday's clash with Melbourne at Optus Stadium, according to 7 News' Ryan Daniels.

It is understood that the Eagles have hoped to rest their veteran spearhead at some point in the opening rounds of the season, however the club's ongoing battle with COVID complications and an extended injury list have seemingly hampered those chances.

West Coast are anticipated to place Kennedy under some level of assessment closer to the opening bounce of the match, which is scheduled for 5:20pm AEST.

The Eagles currently have Patrick Naish, top-up duo Tom Blechynden and Samuel Fisher, and Hugh Dixon on standby as emergencies for the match, with the latter the most likely option to replace Kennedy if required.

The Eagles are already without star pair Andrew Gaff and Shannon Hurn through injury this week, with the duo having been taken out of Adam Simpson's squad since Thursday's selection.

Giants forced into late change ahead of Blues bout

Greater Western Sydney will be without key forward Jesse Hogan for Sunday's clash with Carlton after the ex-Demon and Docker was sidelined with illness.

Hogan's absence will see emerging swingman Jake Riccardi come into Leon Cameron's 22-man side, with small forward Xavier O'Halloran named as an emergency.

The change adds to an array of moved magnets following the club's Round 8 loss to Geelong, with Bobby Hill and Matt Flynn both omitted from the side.

Youngster Conor Stone was originally the only listed inclusion for the game, which will be Cameron's last in charge of the New South Wales club.

The Giants will confirm their final team and medical substitute at 2:20pm AEST on Sunday.

Saturday, May 14... 

Adelaide defender to miss Lions clash

Crows defender Jordon Butts will miss Saturday night's match against Brisbane at Adelaide Oval after entering the AFL's Health and Safety Protocols.

The 22-year-old has been replaced in Adelaide's selected 22 by Nick Murray, with Riley Thilthorpe included as an emergency.

Butts becomes one of seven outs for the Crows, who are looking to make amends for Round 8's 48-point loss to Carlton.

Friday, May 13...

Eagles lose star duo for Demons bout

West Coast have been forced into a pair of late changes for Sunday's clash with Melbourne after star pair Andrew Gaff (quad) and Shannon Hurn (calf) experienced niggling injuries ahead of the weekend.

Eagles coach Adam Simpson revealed to media on Friday afternoon that the pair will be ruled out of the match at Optus Stadium, leaving the club with 23 AFL-listed players for the game.

On Thursday evening West Coast confirmed the inclusions of Alex Witherden and Bailey Williams, while Greg Clark, Jackson Nelson and Hugh Dixon were named on Simpson's extended bench as top-up players Declan Mountford and Jake Florenca were omitted.

It now looms likely the Eagles will at least call on top-up players for this weekend as part of their 26-man squad, with their emergencies and interchange to be confirmed at 5pm AEST on Friday.

Hurn and Gaff join a lengthy injury list at Lathlain Park, which currently occupies star talent in Nic Naitanui, Oscar Allen, Dom Sheed, Luke Shuey and Elliot Yeo.

Port skipper ruled out of Roos clash

Port Adelaide are the latest club to feel the pinch of AFL health and safety protocols, with Ken Hinkley losing captain Tom Jonas for Saturday's clash with North Melbourne.

The Alberton club confirmed on Friday that Jonas has been replaced by young backman Martin Frederick in Hinkley's 22-man side, with Miles Bergman named as an emergency in the squad.

Jonas' absence adds to an undermanned Power backline for this weekend, with half-back Riley Bonner sidelined for at least a week with an ankle injury.

The Roos will be buoyed by the change, with returning key forward Nick Larkey looking to ignite some form for David Noble as the Shinboners chase their second win of the season.

Port Adelaide and North Melbourne will announce their final teams and medical substitutes an hour prior to the opening bounce of the Blundstone Arena clash.

Blues lock in debut for small forward

Carlton will unveil sole 2021 National Draft selection Jesse Motlop in Sunday's clash with Greater Western Sydney.

Motlop made the venture from Western Australia to Princes Park as the 27th overall selection in last year's draft, joining Michael Voss' army as a highly-touted small forward.

After biding his time across the opening eight rounds of the season, where he has occupied the VFL for a return of six goals from five games, Motlop will don the navy blue at senior level for the first time in his career.

The Blues confirmed on Friday that the teenager will debut under Voss, stepping onto the GIANTS Stadium field as Carlton look to continue their impressive start to the 2022 season.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 02: Jesse Motlop of the Bulldogs in action during the 2021 WAFL Grand Final match between the Subiaco Lions and South Fremantle Bulldogs at Optus Stadium on October 02, 2021 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Motlop, the son of former North Melbourne and Port Adelaide forward Daniel, will wear the No.3 jumper, which was made vacant by the retirement of former Carlton captain Marc Murphy.

The Blues will confirm their 22-man side at 5pm AEST on Friday.

Thursday, May 12...

Roos' top draftee hamstrung

North Melbourne are expected to be without prized midfielder Jason Horne-Francis for this weekend's clash with Port Adelaide at Blundstone Arena.

Horne-Francis was reported to be on light duties earlier in the week, with SEN's Sam Edmund now stating the South Australian will miss Saturday's game due to hamstring tightness.

Horne-Francis has been a standout among the Roos' engine room to start his career, often a leading contested ball winner and clearance accumulator.

Key forward Nick Larkey will return from suspension for Round 9, while defender Ben McKay is set to miss the coming weeks with a knee injury.

Young Docker set for sideline stint

Fremantle's Nathan O'Driscoll is set to miss the next six weeks with a footy injury.

According to 7 News' Ryan Daniels, O'Drsicoll has suffered a hot spot in his foot and will require an extended spell on the sidelines.

The teenager has played seven games for the Dockers this season after making his debut in Round 2, impressing in a wing role under Justin Longmuir.

O'Driscoll's absence will be countered by the returns of several Fremantle players who were ruled out of their Round 8 clash with the Kangaroos due to health and safety protocols.

Longmuir confirmed on Thursday that each of the returning players from COVID protocols will still be required to get through training this week to prove their fitness, while defender Luke Ryan is also needing to overcome an ankle issue.

Dogs' ruck woes worsen

The Dogs will reportedly be without both Tim English and Stefan Martin for Friday's crucial clash with Collingwood.

RSN's Mark Stevens reported that Martin's knee has "blown up", adding a further blow to Luke Beveridge's ruck stocks.

First-string tall English has been ruled out through illness, delaying his return after recovering from a hamstring injury.

Jordon Sweet looks an obvious replacement for Martin for his sixth AFL game since being selected in the Rookie Draft in 2018.

Sun sidelined until after bye

Precocious Sun Jack Lukosius has been ruled out until after the bye after re-injuring his knee.

Lukosius initially suffered an injury to his PCL in the Suns' victory over Carlton in Round 4 and, while he avoided serious damage, re-injured the knee and was subbed out last weekend against Sydney.

Suns head physiotherapist Lindsay Bull said that Lukosius had once again escaped serious injury, but confirmed that the 21-year-old will miss out on AFL action until after the Suns' round 13 bye.

“He’s reaggravated the PCL that he injured earlier in the season,” Bull told the club's website.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 04: Jack Lukosius kicks during a Gold Coast Suns AFL media and training session at Metricon Stadium on November 04, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“He’ll be in the rehab group now until at least after the bye week in Round 13.”

Hawks confirm debutant for Richmond clash

Hawthorn will unveil 2021 National Draft selection Sam Butler for Saturday's clash with Richmond at the MCG.

Butler will be the Hawks fourth debutant of the season, with Butler following fellow first-year players Josh Ward and Connor MacDonald, as well as 2021 Mid-Season recruit Jackson Callow.

The 19-year-old joined Hawthorn as the 23rd overall selection in last year's draft as a highly-rated midfield-forward option from Greater Western Victoria.

“A few minor injuries in the pre-season has meant that Sam has had to wait a little longer for his opportunity to make his AFL debut,” Hawks football boss Rob McCartney told hawthornfc.com.au.

“With some playing continuity over the past month at Box Hill he has continued to improve, this culminated in a strong performance against Essendon in the VFL game at Windy Hill on Sunday.

“Sam is a player with genuine leg speed, who has a good balance between being a dangerous forward who can kick goals and a pressure player who can help create turnovers for others to capitalise on.

“We are all looking forward to Sam taking his first step in his AFL journey on Saturday at the MCG.”

Butler is the younger brother of Sants forward Daniel.

Tiger cub in health and safety protocols

Richmond will be without defender Josh Gibcus for Saturday's clash with Hawthorn after the teenager was placed in COVID protocols.

The impressive defender's absence will be combated by the return of triple premiership defender Nick Vlastuin, who returns from illness alongside midfielder Dion Prestia.

https://twitter.com/Richmond_FC/status/1524550961603440642

Vlastuin is likely to replace suspended defender Rhyan Mansell, while Hardwick will be required to consider the return of Robbie Tarrant in place of Gibcus.

Tarrant has been battling a hip injury in recent weeks and was managed for the Tigers' Round 7 match with West Coast.

Gawn cleared to play for Eagles bout

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has stated his skipper Max Gawn will line up against the Eagles on Sunday despite recent knee concerns.

Gawn was placed in some doubt to feature in Round 9 after suffering the ailment in a ruck contest against St Kilda's Paddy Ryder last week.

On Thursday, Goodwin ruled out any chance his star ruckman would be omitted from his selection planning for this weekend.

Despite the Eagles' woes, Goodwin could name a near full-strength side for th clash at Optus Stadium, with defender Christian Salem - who is anticipated to return in the coming weeks - the only notable absentee.

Wednesday, May 11... 

Sick Bombers quintet in line for return

After being removed from Ben Rutten's starting lineup to face old enemy Hawthorn last Saturday, Jordan Ridley, Jake Kelly, Sam Durham, Matt Guelfi and Alec Waterman have made their returns to the Hangar following their layoff with illness.

Within a club prepared statement, Essendon's Head of High Performance, Sean Murphy, claimed the quintet were all within Rutten's selection frame to face Sydney on Saturday night.

“Those five lads are all improving which is great,” Murphy told essendonfc.com.au on Wednesday.

"They were in (at the club) on Tuesday, trained with the boys and they’re building across the program for the week. Hopefully we’ll see them this weekend, but all things are tracking well for them.”

While Devon Smith faces the prospect of continuing his rehabilitation from a knee complaint instead of playing in the Harbour City, Essendon will also look to welcome back Andrew Phillips and vaunted youngster Nic Cox for their date at the SCG.

Having made the necessary strides to return from an ankle complaint, Cox will likely take part in the Bombers' battle with the Bloods, despite still suffering from mild soreness.

“’Coxy’ didn’t quite get up with that ankle,” Murphy added.

“The six-day turnaround wasn’t quite ideal for him, so he still has a bit of soreness in that ankle.

“He trained with the boys and we expect that to be (his ankle) ok across the week and it will give us a bit of an idea about his availability, but all things are looking good for this weekend.”

Phillips' issues with a hamstring were also said to be rectified, with the former Giant and Blue a live chance to partner with Sam Draper at stoppages this Saturday.

English faces secondary setback, defender to debut

Western Bulldogs ruckman Tim English will miss his side's crucial Round 9 clash against Collingwood after being struck down with the flu.

The Western Australian was an absentee during the Dogs' defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide last Friday due to a hamstring-related injury.

Yet, while this latest setback will mean that the 24-year-old's stretch on the sidelines will now meet the month-long milestone, head coach Luke Beveridge believed English would be in the selection mix before too long. 

"Tim unfortunately is ill, he's crook. So he won't play," coach Luke Beveridge told AAP.

"He's recovered from the injury but he's really sick. I think this flu that's going around has got a hold of him and it's knocked him around.

"It's whatever the heavy dose of this flu is, it's really floored him. So we'll miss him this week again."

AFL Rd 1 - Collingwood v Western Bulldogs
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Tim English of the Bulldogs and Brodie Grundy of the Magpies compete in the ruck during the round one AFL match between the Collingwood Magpies and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on March 19, 2021 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

English's loss will be offset by the fact that Collingwood will be forced to operate without first-stringer Brodie Grundy due to a PCL concern.

Beveridge's pack will be bolstered by the return of defender Alex Keath following a lay-off due to his own hamstring concern.

Keath will be joined in the back six by mid-sized interceptor Luke Cleary after the Whitten Oval side announced that the 20-year-old would be making his debut at Marvel Stadium this weekend.

The Sandringham Dragons product will replace Tim O'Brien behind the ball after the former Hawk succumbed to a calf complaint in the City of Churches in Round 8. 

Pies pair learn differing fates

Collingwood could well call on the services of Jamie Elliott for their date with the Dogs on Friday, with the veteran said to have made significant strides following shoulder surgery.

While the 29-year-old has not pulled on black and white stripes since injuring himself during the Pies' shock Round 4 loss to West Coast.

Still, according to Andrew McCormack of 7News, head coach Craig McRae may well wait on placing the sharp-shooter back in his best-22, despite the fact that fellow livewire Jack Ginnivan is a current absentee from the club's Swan Street headquarters due to illness.

McRae will have until Thursday evening to delineate exactly where his pair of offensive targets stand ahead of their latest clash against a 2021 finalist.

Gawn cleared of structural damage 

Scans have cleared Melbourne captain Max Gawn of any structural damage to his knee after coping a knock during Round 8's match against St Kilda.

The incident happened during the second quarter, with the star ruck playing out the rest of the 38-point win.

Gawn underwent precautionary scans and has been given the all clear to train this week, with the Demons due to face West Coast on Sunday afternoon in Perth.

Essendon confident in regaining virus hit group

All five Bombers players hit by a virus last week joined the main group at training on Tuesday, just days after the club was forced into five late changes ahead of their Round 8 clash with Hawthorn.

Jordan RidleyJake KellyMatt GuelfiAlec Waterman and Sam Durham were all late outs on Saturday night after the Bombers were hit hard by a virus, but look like good chances to retake their spots for Round 9.

"We had a few boys go down last week but got them back in amongst the club now" skipper Dyson Heppell told media.

"They'll try to blow a bit of steam out the first couple of sessions early in the week but they should be right to go this week."

Cunningham sidelined until the bye, Hickey a chance for Round 9. 

Swans coach John Longmire has confirmed that Tom Hickey is a chance to return for Sydney's clash against Essendon on Saturday after a successful run in the VFL.

Hickey, who injured his knee in the Swans' Round 3 clash against the Bulldogs, had a strong outing over the weekend, ending the match 23 disposals, 26 hit-outs, six clearances and a goal.

“We wanted to get some more training into him and get a game into him that next level down, which he was able to do on the weekend" Longmire told media on Tuesday.

“He got through that and has pulled up really well so he’s a chance this weekend and we’ll make that decision in the next couple of days.

“Coming off the back of that that knee and missing four weeks it was good to get him a game on the weekend."

The news isn't as good for Harry Cunningham, who won't feature for the Swans again until after their Round 13 bye.

“Harry’s been ruled out until after the bye, he’s got that abdominal strain" Longmire said.

Butler a chance to take on Cats

St Kilda forward Dan Butler will need to pass a fitness test before Saturday afternoon's clash against Geelong after missing part of Round 8's match with Achilles soreness.

The 25-year-old was substituted out of St Kilda's loss to Melbourne over the weekend after developing pain in his Achilles, but the club has confirmed he didn't sustain a serious injury.

Elsewhere at the Saints, Nick Coffield is set to hit the running track this week for the first time since rupturing his ACL during the pre-season.

Monday, May 9 ... 

Star Demon under injury cloud 

Melbourne could suffer a big loss as superstar ruck Max Gawn faces scans ahead of Round 9 to determine the extent of a knee injury sustained against the Saints.

Gawn picked up the injury in the second quarter and managed to play out the game, but the club is still yet to confirm the seriousness of the injury.

The scans put the Melbourne captain in doubt for his side's trip to Perth on Sunday to face West Coast.

Dockers forward out with concussion as cavalry return

Fremantle will face several changes heading into this weekend's clash with the Suns.

Forward Sam Switkowski was concussed during Freo’s last match against North Melbourne, with the 25-year-old set to miss next week’s clash with Gold Coast. Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir said Switkowski was "feeling really good” after the game so signs are positive for a return the week after.

Michael Frederick, Griffin Logue, Blake Acres, Travis Colyer, Rory Lobb and Lloyd Meek are all a chance to return after being forced to miss the weekend due to COVID protocols. Longmuir is confident that the team will be able to fit the six players back into the side comfortable without damaging the team’s momentum.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 04: Griffin Logue of the Dockers warms up during the 2019 JLT Community Series AFL match between the Fremantle Dockers and the Collingwood Magpies at HBF Arena on March 04, 2019 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

On positive news, Luke Ryan will travel with the team to the Gold Coast after rolling his ankle against the Roos. The injury is not serious and the team expect him to recover fully over the nine-day break.

Crows star, Blues pair make case for returns

Adelaide midfielder Matt Crouch put his hand up to be recalled after a standout performance in Adelaide’s VFL team. Crouch had an equal game-high 36 disposals, 10 clearances, eight marks and six tackles in the Crow’s massive 54 point victory over West Adelaide.

Draftee Jake Soligo also stood out with 29 disposals, 11 tackles and a goal of his own.

Caleb Marchbank went through his return to action in the VFL without injury for Carlton, playing out only the first three quarters but still recording 20 disposals.

Paddy Dow continued his hot run of form in the reserves with an impressive 33 disposals and two goals. Dow is still yet to play a game for the senior side but is continuing to impress in the VFL.

Dogs likely to lean on more depth 

The Doggies are also set to name several changes after sustaining a number of injuries in last round’s clash with Port Adelaide.

Small forward Cody Weightman is likely to miss several weeks with a broken collarbone. The lively forward sustained the injury when attempting to lay a bump on Sam Hayes in the last quarter.

Laitham Vandermeer also sustained a high-grade hamstring injury and is likely to miss several weeks.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 09: Tim O'Brien of the Bulldogs handballs during the round four AFL match between the Richmond Tigers and the Western Bulldogs at Melbourne Cricket Ground on April 09, 2022 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Defender Tim O’Brien also had complaints over calf soreness at three-quarter time, however no updates on the extent of his injury have been revealed.

The Bulldogs could welcome back Tim English and Alex Keath from hamstring injuries for this weekend's clash with Collingwood.

Lions face selection dilemma after forward's setback

Brisbane key forward Daniel McStay was discharged from hospital after undergoing x-rays to determine the seriousness of an ankle injury. The results show the left ankle is not broken, but the injury was enough to cause the Lion to leave the game in serious pain.

McStay is set for further scans to reveal the extent of the injury in the coming days.

The key forward's injury could open the door for Eric Hipwood, who hasn't featured at AFL level since suffering an ACL injury against St Kilda nine months ago.