We're a third of the way into the 2022 AFL season, with contenders and pretenders now more noticeable after the opening seven rounds of the year.
Ahead of Round 8, we take a look at all the selection news, with big names needing to prove their fitness while fringe players hope to retain their place in their respective side's best 22.
For all listed injuries, visit our INJURIES AND SUSPENSIONS page.
Bombers latest to be monitoring illness within playing group
Essendon are the latest club to be sweating on the fitness of key players this week due to illness, with Ben Rutten potentially being forced into late changes for Saturday night's clash with rivals Hawthorn.
Recent days have seen Victorian club - including Richmond and Carlton - required to make changes to their squads due to non-COVID illnesses, with The Herald Sun reporting the Bombers could be the next casualty.
Essendon are likely to confirm any last changes at 6:25pm Saturday - an hour before their match at Marvel Stadium commences.
The Bombers currently sit in 16th on the ladder with just one win from their opening seven rounds.
Cats tipped to swing late swap
Stanley suffered an ankle injury in last week's loss to Fremantle, with SEN's Sam Edmund reporting the former Saint hasn't made the venture to Canberra with his teammates.
"Rhys Stanley hasn’t made the trip there, so watch for a late change, he hasn’t made the trip to Canberra,” Edmund told SEN on Saturday.
“So look to Mark Blicavs I suppose to fill the void there.”
The Cats are scheduled to face the Giants at Manuka Oval at 4:35pm AEST.
Blues confirm late change ahead of Sunday Crows clash
The Blues confirmed on Saturday that Plowman has been removed from Micahel Voss' 22-man side, with Jordan Boyd named in his place.
Friday, May 6...
Tiger duo to miss
Richmond have confirmed that the pair aren't in the AFL's health and safety protocols.
Farrell enters health and safety protocols
Milestone Hawk in doubt for Essendon clash
The 28-year-old has tested negative to Covid-19 but is reportedly set to miss Hawthorn's captain's run on Friday.
Thursday, May 5...
Sun to end 1,379-day drought with selection return
The Gold Coast Suns will welcome Rory Thomspon back into the senior fold for the 31-year-old's first game since 2018.
Thompson has suffered two ACL injuries since his last outing in Round 19, 2018, both of which required lengthy rehabbing.
He will return to the senior side for his 104th AFL match, 1379 days after his 103rd.
Coach Stuart Dew lauded Thompson, who has shown exceptional resilience to return to the top level.
“An ACL injury is one of the most devastating in our sport, and to be able to come back from not just one, but two ACL recoveries is a tremendous achievement and a credit to the hard work Rory has put in behind the scenes,” Dew said.
“We’re rapt to have him back in the side for what will be a proud moment for Rory, his family and our football club.”
The Suns play Sydney at the SCG on Saturday afternoon as they look to gain some ground on the top eight.
Bombers pair in doubt
Draper was absent from training on Thursday with illness, while an injury to Cox’s ankle, which saw him subbed out of last weekend’s loss to the Bulldogs, meant he was training away from the main group.
Jake Stringer has already been ruled out and will miss the next three-to-four weeks with a hamstring problem, while Harry Jones is unlikely after being kept out of last week’s VFL contest as he continues to recover from an ankle injury.
Sam Draper absent from Essendon training today with illness. Nik Cox (ankle) didn’t do much with the main group but Ben Rutten said Dylan Shiel is “looking likely” to be in the starting 22 against Hawthorn. @AFLcomau
— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) May 5, 2022
Port forward no certainty, debutant on standby
Port Adelaide forward Mitch Georgiades will need to prove his fitness ahead of Friday night's fixture against the Bulldogs, with uncapped youngster Ollie Lord a likely inclusion should Georgiades be ruled out of the Adelaide Oval affair.
Georgiades is currently battling a calf injury, with recent scans still showing some concern for the emerging spearhead's prospects of playing in Round 8.
“We got a scan back that showed some signals so the reality is that we need to get through captains run,” Power senior coach Ken Hinkley told media on Thursday.
“We are hopeful but not certain.”
If Georgiades fails to be deemed fit, Lord firms as his likely replacement in the Power's attack, according to The Advertiser.
Lord joined the Power as the 49th overall selection in the 2020 National Draft.
West Coast COVID headaches continue
Due to the sheer number of listed players either injured or in health and safety protocols, the Eagles’ WAFL team has had to postpone its match against East Fremantle.
Magpies still wrestling with flu, young tall holds spot
"We've got the man flu still going on," McRae said.
"It's gone through us last week. There was a little bit of carryover this week."
The 2021 Mid-Season Draft recruit will likely continue to work in tandem with second-string ruckman Darcy Cameron in Saturday's match at the MCG.
Dusty set for blockbuster return
Damien Hardwick told reporters that Martin would only need to make it through Thursday training to be named in the senior side, saying he was looking forward to welcoming the champion back.
Dustin Martin almost certain to play against Collingwood on Saturday. Cotchin and Tarrant also likely after Thursday’s session. Dion Prestia “doubtful” @zerohanger
— Mitchell Keating (@MitchKeat) May 5, 2022
Martin has not played since round one, when he took personal leave. Veterans Trent Cotchin and Robbie Tarrant are also likely to return after being managed, while Dion Prestia is "doubtful" after being subbed out of the Tigers' drubbing of West Coast.
Hardwick also confirmed that Jayden Short would likely continue in his midfield role that saw him star last week, collecting a game-high 31 disposals.
Injury plagued midfielder Dion Prestia is "doubtful" to play on Saturday afternoon according to Hardwick with the star battling an array of issues. "His ankle and his Achilles and his lower calf as well, obviously all linked," the club said earlier this week.
Wednesday, May 4...
Danger back, but Scott forced into changes
Dangerfield has missed the past two matches with the setback, with senior coach Chris Scott confirming the veteran's inclusion in a media conference midweek.
Second-string ruckman Esava Ratugolea has been deemed available for selection after recovering from his own ankle injury.
The Cats will need to replace young wingman Max Holmes, who has required surgery on a syndesmosis injury.
Midfielder Quinton Narkle could come into the frame after being deemed fit to feature for Round 8.
Suns to make switch down back
However, fellow small defender Conor Budarick is doubtful for this weekend’s clash against the Swans after suffering an ankle injury against the Pies last weekend.
Budarick failed to train on Wednesday, but the club will monitor his training later this week before making a final decision.
"He's probably a little bit off," Dew said.
"It'll just be checking in on where his swelling is at and can we get that to a level where he can train?"
Bomber a test, more forwards face setbacks
Bombers’ youngster Nik Cox is a “genuine test” for this week after suffering another ankle injury in the Dons’ loss to the Bulldogs according to Head of High Performance Sean Murphy.
Cox was subbed out during the Round 7 clash but remains a chance to play against the Hawks’ this weekend.
“’Coxy’ jarred that ankle in the second quarter. It’s the same side he had previously, but a different feeling in the ankle,” Murphy told essendonfc.com.au.
“We’ll give him every chance to be available.”
Devon Smith has suffered a knee setback, with the midfielder-forward set to be out for the next 2-4 weeks after suffering “knee pain and swelling”.
The Bombers are expecting both Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti (H&S Protocols) and Aaron Francis (Illness) to return to training, after also missing last week’s VFL match, while Tex Wanganeen (ankle) and Andrew Phillips (hamstring) remain tests for this week.
Young tall Harrison Jones is another one that could return before the Round 12 bye, but Murphy said the club will be cautious with his return.
English a chance to face Power
Both English and defender Alex Keath have made important steps in their respective hamstring recoveries in the past week.
“Tim and Alex are progressing well from their hamstring injuries,” Bulldogs sports medicine boss Chris Bell said, via the club's website.
“Both completed a game-like rehab session over the weekend.
“They still have to tick some boxes this week before we confirm if they play this weekend against Port or next weekend against the Pies.”
“Mitch has damaged a joint in his foot,” Head of Sports Medicine, Chris Bell said.
“We will work through a process of how to best manage Mitch over the next few days before confirming if he is available to play.”
Dockers confirm debut as club sweats on more COVID blows
"At this stage Griffin Logue will join the three in the health and safety protocols. Michael Frederick and Lloyd Meek as well. We've got six out, but we're pretty confident that's all," Longmuir said on Wednesday.
JYE AMISS SZN 🤌
— Fremantle Dockers (@freodockers) May 4, 2022
The absences have opened up an opportunity for Amiss, who has found strong form for Peel Thunder in recent weeks.
Star Blues no certainty to return
The news is similar for Williams, who was a late out for the Blues on the weekend after sustaining Achilles soreness.
The pair will both push for selection in the coming days as senior coach Michael Voss is forced to move his magnets.
Young defender Liam Stocker will be sidelined for the next fortnight after suffering an AC joint injury, with the Blues likely to dive deeper into their defensive stocks should Williams not be fit to return.
Debutant Jack Carroll is likely to have done enough in his maiden performance in the navy blue to feature against the Crows this week.
Pies pair deemed fit for Round 8
Maynard sustained the injury late into the Magpies' win over the Suns on Sunday, with the club have since deemed their backman fit to face Richmond in Round 8.
Fellow defender Nathan Murphy has also been cleared to play after recuperating from an ankle injury sustained in the pre-season.
Murphy is unlikely to feature for Craig McRae's side against the Tigers, and will look toward next week given the magpies' reserves have a bye this weekend.
Tuesday, May 3...
Jake Stringer set for month on sideline
Stringer has been in and out of the Bombers' side with the injury over the first seven weeks of the season, managing just four games.
Scans confirmed he will now need three to four weeks to recover from the injury as Essendon desperately attempt to improve on their one and six start to the 2022 campaign.
"Scans today have confirmed the strain is to his right hamstring, which is the different side to his previous hamstring injury,” Essendon general manager of football Josh Mahoney said in a club statement.
“This is a reasonably standard 3-4 week injury, and Jake will use this time on the sidelines to ensure a full recovery to return for a strong second half of the season.”
Hawks young guns to remain sidelined
Lewis has had his sideline stint delayed due to a non-COVID related illness after suffering a hamstring injury against Geelong in Round 6, while Jiath continues to nurse a hamstring injury.
Swans to regain trio for Suns clash
"They trained today, we expect them to train again on Thursday and be available."
McCartin and McDonald both sat out Round 7's loss to Brisbane due to concussion protocols.
On Hickey, Longmire remained optimistic too, indicating that the ruckman would be available for selection come Thursday after injuring his knee in Round 3.
"He is a strong chance as well," Longmire said.
"Whilst he is not quite over the line, he has done everything and more that has been asked of him.
"So we wouldn't be surprised if come Thursday he is available."
Eagles duo in isolation, stars no certainty to return
The pair of absences compounds the list woes for Adam Simpson, who has faced an onslaught of ailments to start this season.
Adding to the club's casualty ward are forward duo Willie Rioli (hamstring) and Zac Langdon (ankle), as well as midfielder Xavier O'Neill (knee), who are all currently requiring further assessments ahead of Round 8.
Midfielder Elliot Yeo is no certainty to return from a concussion sustained in Round 6 against Port Adelaide, while defender Tom Barrass will need to prove his fitness after being a late out against Richmond with a hamstring complaint.
The list of setbacks could see Simpson rely on top-up players once again, with Aaron Black (West Perth), Brayden Ainsworth (Perth), Declan Mountford, Angus Dewar (Subiaco) and Stefan Giro (Subiaco) having already been utilised this season.
The extent of their injuries will be revealed later in the week as the club undergoes a scheduled medical staff meeting on Tuesday.
Monday, May 2...
Freo trio to miss Roos meeting
Fremantle trio Rory Lobb, Blake Acres and Travis Colyer are understood to be the latest Dockers forced into the AFL's health and safety protocols, with the ex-Giant, onballer and half-forward anticipated to miss Friday's match against North Melbourne.
According to 7 News Perth's Ryan Daniels, Acres and Colyer will join Lobb in being ruled out of the match at Optus Stadium in what is the latest blow for the Dockers.
Blake Acres and Trav Colyer join Rory Lobb as the three @freodockers in COVID iso this week.
— Ryan Daniels (@FootyRhino) May 2, 2022
The Dockers will enter their Round 8 bout with the Roos heavily favoured, having claimed four premiership points against Geelong at Kardinia Park on Saturday without key forward Matt Taberner and ruckman Sean Darcy.
The duo are a chance to feature in Round 8, looking to return from hamstring and concussions setbacks respectively, while Chapman and Young should be available after narrowly falling short of selection last week.
Kangaroos set to wrung changes
Struggling North Melbourne will be forced to make a series of changes to their squad as they travel to Fremantle in Round 8. Suspensions and injuries rule out a few key players, while few others look likely to return from injury.
According to AFL.com.au, key defender Aidan Corr is expected to make his return after recovering from illness earlier in the week. Corr was accidentally listed as a late withdrawal during last week’s match against Carlton due to the AFL’s health and safety protocols, but was not suffering from a COVID related illness.
Corr will now be available to travel with the squad to face the Dockers this week.
Experienced midfielder Jed Anderson is likely to make his long-awaited return after suffering heart complications. The ball-winner played two VFL games in the last three weeks, highlighting his improved fitness levels as he looks ready to get back into first-team action.
Defender Ben McKay will also travel with the team to make his return after undergoing a one-match suspension.
Forward Charlie Comben was looking set to make his comeback and would have likely been Larkey’s replacement, but is unlikely to travel with the team after missing last week’s VFL clash with Carlton due to knee soreness.
Star midfielder Tarryn Thomas is also in doubt after undergoing scans to determine the extent of a sustained hamstring injury.
Giants make statement in VFL win, forward boots nine
Zach Sproule also put up a solid performance, kicking a bag of three goals while managing 15 disposals.
Crows lose pair through concussion
Smith was up and moving around in the rooms after landing awkwardly in a marking contest during the third quarter of the Crow’s loss to GWS. Smith was taken from the ground after sustaining the injury and took no further part in the game. Adelaide’s High.
Performance Manager Darren Burgess provided an update on Smith’s injury after the match.
“Brodie was up and walking and communicating in the rooms shortly after the incident which is pleasing, but he will now be subject to the AFL’s concussion protocols,” Burgess said.
McHenry also received treatment after sustaining a cut to his head after a collision. He was taken from the ground and did not return to participate in the game after going down to the rooms.
Ned McHenry will miss @Adelaide_FC’s clash with Carlton after he joined @Brodiesmith33 in following the AFL's concussion protocols. 7NEWS Adelaide at 6pm | https://t.co/8ftPfFYTVQ #7AFL #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/ytUxkY8c3r
— 7NEWS Adelaide (@7NewsAdelaide) May 1, 2022
While no statements have been made by Adelaide, multiple reports have suggested the young Crow will join Smith under concussion protocols.
Henry bags seven in VFL win
Emerging Collingwood forward Ollie Henry did his Round 8 selection hopes no harm on the weekend, booting seven goals in the Magpies' win over Coburg.
The 19-year-old was among the best performers in the 104-point win over the Lions, having also added 17 disposals and 10 marks to the stat sheet.
The Magpies amassed no injuries in the victory, while the side recorded 10 separate goalkickers for the day in what was a steady performance.