We're five rounds into the season and the ladder is continuing to take shape, with early contenders emerging from the opening month of action.
With a healthy list often a prerequisite for flag contention, keeping the best names on the track each weekend is vital.
Ahead of Round 6, we take a look at all the selection news for each side, 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.
Suns tipped to make late change
Rosas, who has been a bright spark among the Suns' attack across the past fortnight, is likely to be replaced in Stuart Dew's lineup for Round 6, according to Seven News' Mitch Cleary.
Rosas booted three goals in his 2022 return against the Blues in Round 4 before collecting a career-high 15 disposals last week against St Kilda.
Saturday, April 23...
Stringer and Merrett expected to play
Stringer, who is recovering from a hamstring injury and Merrett, who has been sidelined since Round 2 with a syndesmosis injury, both trained on Saturday morning, with Rutten indicating the pair will line up against the Pies.
“We’re gonna give him (Merrett) every chance to put his hand up for selection,” Rutten said.
“They are a realistic chance to play, and we can’t bring them into the squad late, but we can take them out."
The Bombers will be desperate for a win to get their season back on track after managing just one win from the opening five weeks of the season. Stringer and Merrett would be welcomed inclusions, with the valuable Will Snelling and Kyle Langford still occupying the injury list.
"They're certainly getting really close."
- Truck on Merrett + Stringer
— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) April 23, 2022
Hawks make double change for Swans clash
Finn Maginness and Josh Morris have replaced Changkuoth Jiath and Tom Phillips in Monday’s squad.
More details coming this afternoon.
— Hawthorn FC (@HawthornFC) April 23, 2022
Phillips was named on the extended bench for the match at the University of Tasmania Stadium, while Jiath was set for a place in Mitchell's backline.
Friday, April 22...
Carlton to miss son of a gun with ankle complaint
In a club statement on Friday, Carlton confirmed Silvagni was sent for scans after injuring his ankle at training on Thursday but there was no "significant damage".
"Silvagni tweaked his ankle at training on Thursday and was immediately sent for scans. The results showed no significant damage, so the Club remained hopeful yesterday he would be available to play.
"However a further fitness test was conducted on Friday morning prior to the team’s flight to Perth, which confirmed the best decision would be to allow Silvagni the weekend to recover. He remains a chance to be available for Round 7.
"Tom De Koning will now come into the 22, while Lachie Plowman joins the emergencies."
The Optus Stadium match-up pits two clubs with a 4-1 record against each other, with the first bounce set for 7.40pm (AEST).
We'll be without Jack Silvagni for this weekend's game against Fremantle.
— Carlton FC (@CarltonFC) April 22, 2022
Tall Dog struck down by tightness
According to a brief statement released by the club on Friday afternoon, English's sidelining came in the wake of scans that confirmed a low-grade injury.
The Western Australian is expected to make his return within the space of the next month, per claims from the Bulldogs' Head of Sports Medicine, Chris Bell.
“On Wednesday at training, Tim English had the onset of some hamstring tightness,” Bell stated.
“MRI and clinical tests have confirmed that he has a low-grade hamstring injury.”
“The Club is working through his return to play plan but expect Tim to miss the next 2-3 games.”
Suns pair to push for selection
Lukosius went down with a knee complaint during the dying stages of the Suns' barnstorming win over Carlton in week four but after a week on the sidelines recuperating, the South Australian has recommenced running per reports from AFL Media.
The Carrara club could also be boosted should Mabior Chol complete training on Thursday after making a swift recovery from an adductor strain picked up against the Saints.
Speaking on Thursday ahead of the contest between both Queensland clubs, Suns head coach Stuart Dew claimed the pair were in line to face the Lions.
"Both are a chance," Dew said.
"It's always that point. Early in the week you don't get them up to 100 percent anyway, and not all of the players can get to that point whether they're fit or sore.
"But the main session is where we start to lift the bar and we'll set the bar really high on both.
"(We'll) take no risks. AFL's too hard now. If they're not right, they're not right, it becomes pretty obvious. We'll just keep an open mind."
Hawks to lose in-form forward
According to AFL.com.au's Cal Twomey, Lewis has sustained a hamstring injury and won't be available for Sam Mitchell's Round 6 planning.
Hawthorn has suffered a blow, with key forward Mitch Lewis ruled out of this week's clash with Sydney due to a hamstring injury. Been in stellar form. @aflcomau
— Callum Twomey (@CalTwomey) April 20, 2022
Gun Roo to return as hamstrung defender suffers setback
Thomas has been sidelined with internal bruising after a crunching tackle against West Coast, with final medical clearance needed to see the midfielder return four weeks earlier than first anticipated.
"'Taz' has had a couple of good weeks training, he went back and had a scan yesterday ... he's just got to wait and get tick-off from the specialist but the medical guys are pretty confident that he'll be right to play this weekend," Roos football boss Dan McPherson said, via North Media.
On a dimmer note, defender Aaron Hall is set to miss a month with a hamstring injury sustained against the Bulldogs on Good Friday.
"It's a reasonably significant injury, so we expect he'll probably be a month away before he returns," McPherson said.
"Hopefully we'll be able to get him moving late this week or early next week, but it's probably three or four weeks before he returns to play."
Greene among trio of returning Giants
Having spent the opening five rounds on the sidelines due to the suspension, Greene will now be available for Friday night's clash with St Kilda at Manuka Oval.
On Wednesday Cameron confirmed Greene's inclusion while ruckman Braydon Preuss will also return from a one-game suspension, likely placing Matt Flynn on the periphery once again.
The trio of returns are sure to buoy the New South Wales club, who are currently placed 14th on the ladder after registering just the one victory from five games.
Pies back for ANZAC clash
Magpie Jack Ginnivan looks set to return for Collingwood's ANZAC day clash with Essendon on Monday. Ginnivan had sustained a calf injury the week prior but has progressed well in training and will look to get back to his best against the Bombers.
"A five game turnaround meaning he wasn't to be able to fly up to Brisbane and compete at his best, the rest and time off has given him a really good chance to put some rehab into the calf and do some work over the weekend to get himself ready to be available for ANZAC day."
Aiden Begg (concussion), Darcy Cameron (ribs) and Beau McCreery (hip) are also all available for selection after returning from their respective injuries, while Brodie Mihocek has also come out of COVID protocols and is available to play.
On a less positive note, key defender Charlie Dean has experienced another setback in his recovery process, with his review with a surgeon delaying his return to running training.
Docker ruled out under health and safety protocols
Blakely, who is yet to feature for Longmuir's side this season, will undergo the required health and safety protocols for the next week and won't feature at either AFL or WAFL level.
A recent spike in cases among WAFL clubs has left Longmuir to separate his his playing group between senior and reserve players.
JL: We’ve split our playing group up to minimise the risk after the Covid cases in the WAFL. Connor Blakely is in the protocols so he will be out this week #foreverfreo
— Fremantle Dockers (@freodockers) April 20, 2022
The Dockers were without forward Lachie Schultz for their Round 5 win over Essendon due to health and safety protocols, with the in-form forward still no certainty to return as the club assess his fitness.
Dogs to make pair of changes as forward remains sidelined with delayed concussion
The Bulldogs will be required to make at least two changes to their side for Saturday's clash with Adelaide, with Lachie Hunter (indefinite leave) and Riley Garcia (knee) both set to be omitted for Round 6.
"He's had some delayed concussion, and we'll need to give me a little bit more time," Beveridge said on Wednesday.
"So he won't play this week."
Robbie McComb (28 disposals, six clearances) and Buku Khamis (16 possessions, 10 marks, four goals) both impressed in Footscray's Round 4 showing against North Melbourne over the weekend and could be considered for selection.
Power trio cleared to face Eagles
The club have cleared to play, with Wines returning from a concerning heart issue sustained in Round 4 against Melbourne.
After missing his side's narrow defeat to Carlton, the Brownlow Medal winner will come back into Ken Hinkley's side as they chase their first win of the season.
Duursma has been deemed fit to feature for the Power after recovering from a neck/shoulder injury sustained earlier in the season.
Port skipper Tom Jonas has also been cleared of any serious damage to his knee after suffering a minor setback against the Blues.
Tuesday, April 19...
Gun Bulldog on indefinite leave
The Bulldogs confirmed on Tuesday night that the 27-year-old will not feature at either AFL or VFL level for the foreseeable future as he deals with personal issues.
“Lachie has been dealing with some personal issues for a period of time. After some recent internal discussions, it has been determined and agreed with Lachie that the best course of action is for him to spend some time away from the Club while he addresses his personal issues,” Western Bulldogs Head of Football Chris Grant said, via the club's website.
“We will continue to support Lachie during his leave of absence, with his personal wellbeing the sole focus for everyone in the immediate term.
“During this period of absence from the football program Lachie will not play at either AFL or VFL level.
“We expect that Lachie’s privacy will be respected during this period.”
Hunter has played in all five matches to start the 2022 season, tallying a career total 168 games in the blue, white and red.
Saints pair in isolation
Jones impressed in his return from a leave of absence through the VFL on Saturday, recording 28 possessions and nine clearances as Sandringham defeated Gold Coast at Trevor Barker Oval.
Campbell, who joined the Saints as a delisted free agent, is yet to feature at AFL level this season.
Last week Ratten and defender Jimmy Webster were forced to miss the Saints' Round 5 win over the Suns due to health and safety protocols.
Pies defender to miss ANZAC Day
7 News' Tom Browne has reported that Roughead will miss next Monday's clash with the Bombers and may be in some doubt for the succeeding fixtures against the Suns and Tigers.
Some injury news from the pies.
Important defender Jordan Roughead won’t play Monday.
— Tom Browne (@TomBrowne7) April 19, 2022
The setbacks adds to a frustrating campaign for the former Bulldog, who missed the opening month of the season after requiring a procedure on his shoulder prior to Round 1.
Crow in line for return
Adelaide's Mitch Hinge is expected to be available for his side's trip to Ballarat to face the Bulldogs on Saturday.
Hinge was sidelined for his side's Round 5 win over Richmond with a hip injury and is listed as a test for the coming week.
“Mitch had a test on Friday morning and didn’t quite make it, we didn’t want to take any risks with him, we expect him to fully train on Wednesday and be available this weekend,” Crows high performance manager Darren Burgess told Crows Media.
No Papley, but Buddy a chance for Swans' ANZAC Day clash
Papley is yet to feature for the Swans this season after suffering a hamstring injury in the pre-season, with Longmire confirming on Thursday that his livewire forward will miss at least another week as the club continues their conservative approach.
"He won't be playing on Monday," Longmire said.
"We want to just get another week of training under his belt. So he'll be playing hopefully next week. That's the plan.
"He'll get a good week of training under his belt this week."
Longmire was less certain of Lance Franklin's chances, unable tp rule out the veteran spearhead from facing his former side next week.
With a 10-day turnaround between matches, Franklin remains a chance to return to Longmire's squad, with a last-minute call to be made.
"We're not sure just yet with Lance," Longmire said.
"We'll see how the week progresses. We'll make that decision when we've got all the information in front of us, and that won't happen until the end of the week."
Eagles unsure on returning stars
McGovern missed his side's Round 5 loss to Sydney through the AFL's health and safety protocols and the club are still waiting to confirm his return from isolation, while Gaff (ankle) and Allen (foot) have battled injuries to start the season.
Speaking to 7 News on Monday, Simpson confirmed selection for the trio will be "tough and go" for Saturday's match at Adelaide Oval.
"McGovern has missed a week so we'll see what happens there," Simpson told Channel Seven.
"Gaff and Allen are probably not going to be available this week. It's going to be touch and go. We'll work through that in the next few days.
"We'll transition everyone back on the individual basis that if they're fit enough, they'll play. If they're not, they won't."
Lion fit for comeback after hamstring setback
Coleman has missed the start of 2022 after suffering a hamstring injury in the pre-season, with AFL.com.au stating the 22-year-old will be in line for a return against Gold Coast.
Coleman will be needing to break into a defence ensemble that has clicked across the past month, with skipper Dayne Zorko finding form at half-back while incumbent pair Daniel Rich and Brandon Starcevich hold down their roles with little question.
Cripps more than likely to return this week
The Blues midfielder was sidelined for his side's Round 5 encounter with Port Adelaide after suffering a minor hamstring issue the weekend prior, with the niggling setback set to place further questions over the Cartlon star's selection chances.
However, Cripps frames as a likely inclusion for the Blues in what will be a mouth-watering contest against the Dockers, who like Carlton are also sitting pretty with a 4-1 record.
Speaking on RSN on Monday, Blues assistant Aaron Hamill revealed Cripps is more likely than not to feature at Optus Stadium
"He's more likely than unlikely at this stage," Hamill said.
"Certainly aware that we've got a short turnaround. He had a bit of volume in him last week and he'll ramp it up this week again. We'll work through that.
"At this stage he's progressing well for us. We've got a couple more sessions to get through before selection, so we'll see where that sits."