Teams: Can Heppell cure Dons’ injury headache?
ESSENDON will have to overcome another wave of injuries to shore up its finals spot with a win against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday night.
The Bombers lost five players to injury including gun youngsters Darcy Parish (concussion) and Aaron Francis (neck) and dropped Michael Hartley for the must-win game at Marvel Stadium.
Essendon will also miss Adam Saad (hamstring), Matt Guelfi (knee) and Will Snelling, but welcome back captain Dyson Heppell from a serious foot problem as well as important big man Shaun McKernan and veteran Mark Baguley.
Essendon is four points clear of eighth and two games clear of ninth-placed Port Adelaide but could crash out if they lose their last three games to the Bulldogs, Fremantle (Perth) and a blockbuster Round 23 battle against Collingwood.
The Bulldogs lost clearance king Tom Liberatore (knee) and Caleb Daniel (hamstring) but regained Will Hayes and Taylor Duryea.
At St Kilda there was great news as Jack Steven (mental health) and Daniel Hannebery (hamstring) prepare to make their long-awaited returns against Fremantle.
Four-time best and fairest winner Steven hasn't played seniors since he stepped away from the game in Round 6.
Likewise, Hannebery missed last week's loss to Adelaide with gastro but will line up to play only his third game for the club since crossing over from the Swans.
Richmond has included mid-season draftee Marlion Pickett, Sydney Stack and ruckman Toby Nankervis in an extended squad for Sunday's clash against Carlton.
Livewire Dan Butler has been dropped, placing a cloud over his future at the Tigers.
Carlton was boosted by the return of ruckman Matthew Kreuzer, while swingman Mitch McGovern was also named in an extended squad after one month out to improve his fitness.
Collingwood has turned to former basketballer Jack Madgen as part of the reshuffle caused by Mason Cox's season-ending eye problem.
Madgen's inclusion could allow regular defender Jordan Roughead to swing forward as part of a new-look setup against Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday.
For the Dees, Steven May will bolster the backline in place of omitted ruckman Braydon Preuss.
Max Gawn will go head to head against Brodie Grundy in the battle of the league's two best ruckmen.
The Cats have dumped veterans Scott Selwood and Lachie Henderson for tomorrow night's clash against North Melbourne.
Gary Rohan and Jordan Clark will also be sidelined as the Cats turn to exciting duo Quinton Narkle and Brendan Parfitt for some replacement run and hardness.
Luke Dahlhaus and Harry Taylor will also bolster the team as Chris Scott's men look to arrest their form slump.
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GIANTS GAINS CAMERON BUT LOSE TWO
GWS welcomes back forward general Jeremy Cameron but have lost his two lieutenants for Friday night's big freeze against Hawthorn in Canberra.
Star talls Jeremy Finlayson (hamstring) and Harry Himmelberg (calf) were ruled out with minor soft tissue injuries, putting enormous pressure on Cameron to fire as the chief focus of the attack.
Adam Kennedy is back from his heart scare, while Dawson Simpson has also been added as coach Leon Cameron considers going back to his two-ruck model.
Finlayson has kicked 36 goals and Himmelberg 33 this season, illustrating the amount of potency GWS has lost in their front half.
Cameron is the leading goal-kicker in the competition with 57 but will need the likes of Toby Greene and Brett Deledioto step up and support him.
GWS coach Leon Cameron decided to leave out stars Josh Kelly (calf) and Matt de Boer (shoulder) for one more week but both are tipped tobe certainties for returns next week.
Meanwhile, Sydney Swans have key defender Dane Rampe back as expected for tomorrow's game against Port Adelaide. Rampe hadbleeding on an eye after a freakish incident two weeks ago against Geelong.
Kieren Jack has been dropped again and it seems increasingly certain he's on the verge of joining Jarrad McVeigh and HeathGrundy in announcing his retirement.
ZORKO NAMED, SUNS MAKE STATEMENT
Brishave has shown bitter rivals Gold Coast the ultimate respect by naming in-doubt skipper Dayne Zorko for tomorrow's QClash.
But the Suns have used the biannual grudge match to draw a line in the sand with out-of-contract Jack Martin, who has been dropped for the first time in his AFL career.
The prodigiously talented 24-year-old paid the price for a quiet outing in his first game back from a finger surgery.
Peter Wright, a former top-10 draft pick, has also been axed in a ruthless selection meeting at Metricon Stadium.
Zorko had a hamstring scare against the Western Bulldogs on Sunday that saw him spend the final quarter and a half on thebench with his leg wrapped in ice.
Senior officials at the Lions pushed for the selectors to take a cautious approach with the in-form veteran and rest him for QClash 18 but Zorko was adamant he wanted to play.
The 30-year-old has never missed a game through injury.
EXCITING HAWK TO DEBUT
Young Hawk Changkuoth Jiath will make his AFL debut in what is expected to be bitterly cold conditions for Friday night's clash against Greater Western Sydney in Canberra.
The Hawks need to make at least one change for the match to replace veteran defender Grant Birchall, who is set to be sidelined for the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.
Jiath flew out with the Hawks on Thursday morning with his teammates for the interstate clash.
Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson said the team would be finalised in the afternoon, but shortly after the Hawks jetted out for Sydney they revealed the 20-year-old would face GWS.
"I'm a bit rattled at the moment," Jiath said.
"I don't want to think right now, it feels like I'm day dreaming.
"I'm just trying to soak it all in.
"I kind of had a little inkling that I might debut sometime soon, but I wasn't rushed. I was trying to be patient, and I was willing to take as long as needed to develop my game and confidence."
ROUND 21 TEAMS (All times AEST)
GWS GIANTS v HAWTHORN
Friday August 9, 7:50pm at UNSW Canberra Oval
B: Williams, Keeffe, Shaw
HB: Kennedy, Haynes, Davis
C: Whitfield, Hopper, Hately
HF: Hill, Deledio, Daniels
F: Perryman, Cameron, Reid
FOLL: Mumford, Greene, Taranto
I/C: Tomlinson, Bonar, Stein, Simpson
EMG: Caldwell, Buntine, Sproule, Idun
IN: Kennedy, Cameron, Simpson
OUT: Finlayson, Idun, Himmelberg
B: Burgoyne, Frawley, Sicily
HB: Hardwick, Stratton, Howe
C: Henderson, O'Meara, Scully
HF: Puopolo, O'Brien, Cousins
F: Breust, Lewis, Gunston
FOLL: Ceglar, Shiels, Worpel
I/C: Jiath, Smith, Wingard, Hanrahan
EMG: Nash, Morrison, Glass, Mirra
IN: Cousins, Ceglar, Jiath
OUT: McEvoy, Birchall, Nash
MELBOURNE v COLLINGWOOD
Saturday August 10, 1:45pm at the MCG
B: Salem, May, Lever
HB: Brayshaw, Frost, Harmes
C: Jones, Hibberd, Lewis
HF: Hunt, Fritsch, Dunkley
F: Petty, Melksham, Petracca
FOLL: Gawn, Viney, Oliver
I/C: Kennedy-Harris, O.McDonald, Baker, Wagner
EMG: Stretch, Preuss, Neal-Bullen, Hore
B: Maynard, Roughead, Howe
HB: Crisp, Scharenberg, Mayne
C: Phillips, Pendlebury, Daicos
HF: Brown, Mihocek, Varcoe
F: Elliott, Hoskin-Elliott, Sidebottom
FOLL: Grundy, Treloar, Adams
I/C: Greenwood, Madgen, Thomas, Williams
EMG: Broomhead, Brown, Crocker, Noble
PORT ADELAIDE v SYDNEY
Saturday August 10, 2:10pm at the Adelaide Oval
B: Houston, Clurey, Bonner
HB: Hartlett, Jonas, Byrne-Jones
C: Duursma, Rockliff, Amon
HF: R.Gray, Dixon, S.Gray
F: Westhoff, Ladhams, Rozee
FOLL: Ryder, Powell-Pepper, Boak
I/C: Broadbent, Sutcliffe, Butters, Marshall
EMG: Howard, Wines, McKenzie, Mayes
B: McCartin, Rampe, Mills
HB: Lloyd, Aliir, Jones
C: Bell, Hewett, Florent
HF: Papley, Dawson, Parker
F: Blakey, Menzel, Fox
FOLL: Reid, Heeney, Kennedy
I/C: McLean, Clarke, Rowbottom, Ronke
EMG: Rose, Melican, Jack, Stoddart
IN: Rampe, Bell
OUT: Jack, Rose
BRISBANE LIONS v GOLD COAST
Saturday August 10, 4:35pm at the Gabba
B: Hodge, Andrews, Adams
HB: Witherden, Gardiner, Rich
C: McCarthy, Zorko, Robinson
HF: Cameron, Hipwood, McCluggage
F: McInerney, McStay, Berry
FOLL: Martin, Neale, Lyons
I/C: Christensen, Rayner, Bailey, Answerth
EMG: Bastinac, Walker, Cox, Starcevich
B: Lukosius, Graham, Harbrow
HB: Ballard, Burgess, Weller
C: Hanley, Miles, Fiorini
HF: Sexton, Day, Miller
F: Lemmens, King, Heron
FOLL: Witts, Swallow, MacPherson
I/C: Ainsworth, Bowes, Dawson, Rischitelli
EMG: Horlin-Smith, Joyce, Wright, Martin
IN: Graham, Heron
OUT: Martin, Wright
ESSENDON v WESTERN BULLDOGS
Saturday August 10, 7:25pm at Marvel Stadium
B: Redman, Hooker, Gleeson
HB: McKenna, Ambrose, McNiece
C: McGrath, Merrett, Fantasia
HF: Shiel, McKernan, McDonald-Tipungwuti
F: Zaharakis, Brown, Stringer
FOLL: Z.Clarke, Baguley, Heppell
I/C: D.Clarke, Myers, Langford, Begley
EMG: Hartley, Jok, Long, Laverde
IN: McNiece, McKernan, Baguley, Heppell, Myers, Begley
OUT: Hartley, Francis, Saad, Parish, Snelling, Guelfi
B: Duryea, Trengove, Crozier
HB: Johannisen, Cordy, Wood
C: Hunter, Bontempelli, Richards
HF: Dale, Schache, Lloyd
F: Smith, Naughton, Dickson
FOLL: English, Dunkley, Macrae
I/C: Suckling, McLean, Lipinski, Hayes
EMG: Le.Young, West, Smith, La.Young
IN: Duryea, Hayes
OUT: Daniel, Liberatore
GEELONG v NORTH MELBOURNE
Saturday August 10, 7:25pm at GMHBA Stadium
B: Stewart, Blicavs, Taylor
HB: Tuohy, Kolodjashnij, Bews
C: Duncan, Dangerfield, Parfitt
HF: Ablett, Ratugolea, Miers
F: Dahlhaus, Hawkins, Atkins
FOLL: Smith, J.Selwood, Kelly
I/C: Henry, Mengola, C.Guthrie, Narkle
EMG: Parsons, Constable, S.Selwood, Henderson
IN: Taylor, Parfitt, Dahlhaus, Narkle
OUT: Henderson, S.Selwood, Rohan, Clark
B: Williams, Thompson, Pittard
HB: Macmillan, Tarrant, Ahern
C: Dumont, Ziebell, Polec
HF: Simpkin, Larkey, Wood
F: Thomas, Brown, Zurhaar
FOLL: Goldstein, Higgins, Cunnington
I/C: Anderson, Garner, Atley, Turner
EMG: Hrovat, Durdin, Campbell, Hosie
IN: Anderson, Atley
OUT: Davies-Uniacke, Durdin
ST KILDA v FREMANTLE
Sunday August 11, 1:10pm at Marvel Stadium
B: Savage, Wilkie, Coffield
HB: Newnes, Carlisle, Clark
C: Billings, Ross, Hannebery
HF: Hind, Bruce, Steele
F: Lonie, Membrey, Long
FOLL: Marshall, Dunstan, Steven
I/C (from): Acres, Brown, Battle, Paton, Parker, Sinclair, Rice, Rowe
IN: Newnes, Hannebery, Steven, Acres, Paton, Rice, Rowe
OUT: McKenzie, Langlands, Gresham
B: Duman, Hamling, Blakely
HB: Hughes, Logue, Cerra
C: B.Hill, Fyfe, Langdon
HF: Brayshaw, Walters, Tucker
F: Matera, Darcy, Switkowski
FOLL: Sandilands, Conca, Mundy
I/C (from): Schultz, Carter, Crowden, Banfield, Ballantyne, McCarthy, Nyhuis, Colyer
IN: McCarthy, Ballantyne, Nyhuis, Colyer
RICHMOND v CARLTON
Sunday August 11, 3:20pm at the MCG
B: Astbury, Broad, Grimes
HB: Houli, Vlastuin, Edwards
C: Short, Prestia, Bolton
HF: Rioli, Castagna, Lambert
F: Baker, Riewoldt, Lynch
FOLL: Soldo, Caddy, Martin
I/C (from): Graham, Stack, Ellis, Chol, Nankervis, Ross, McIntosh, Pickett
IN: Stack, Ross, Nankervis, McIntosh, Pickett
B: Newman, Plowman, Simpson
HB: Petrevski-Seton, Weitering, Setterfield
C: Fisher, Cripps, O'Brien
HF: Deluca, Casboult, Silvagni
F: Walsh, McKay, Lang
FOLL: Kreuzer, Murphy, E.Curnow
I/C (from): Garlett, Thomas, McGovern, Gibbons, Jones, Phillips, Goddard, Kennedy
IN: Kreuzer, Garlett, Thomas, McGovern, Jones
WEST COAST v ADELAIDE
Sunday August 11, 4:40pm at Perth Stadium
B: Hurn, Barrass, Schofield
HB: Jetta, McGovern, Sheppard
C: Cripps, Redden, Gaff
HF: Sheed, Darling, Ryan
F: Rioli, Kennedy, Allen
FOLL: Hickey, Yeo, Shuey
I/C (from): Waterman, Masten, Petruccelle, Nelson, Hutchings, Rotham, Cameron, Ah Chee
IN: Cripps, Rotham, Hutchings, Ah Chee
B: Brown, Talia, Kelly
HB: Smith, Hartigan, Laird
C: Sloane, B.Crouch, Mackay
HF: Milera, Walker, Lynch
F: Murphy, Fogarty, Betts
FOLL: Jacobs, M.Crouch, Gibbs
I/C (from): Greenwood, Knight, Seedsman, Jones, Atkins, Otten, Douglas, O'Brien
IN: Jacobs, Greenwood, Seedsman, Jones