St Kilda veteran Dan Hannebery has been named for his first AFL match of the year, while Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui, Collingwood star Jordan De Goey and Geelong defender Tom Stewart are among other big names to return.
Carlton pulled a surprise by axing Jack Silvagni for Saturday night’s clash with Adelaide at Adelaide Oval, but the return of ruckman Marc Pittonet for his first senior match since round six is a big boost.
The naming of Hannebery for St Kilda’s battle with Hawthorn at Marvel Stadium on Saturday was the feel-good story of Thursday’s selection news.
Hannebery has been plagued by soft tissue injuries since joining the Saints at the end of 2018, but the 31-year-old has been cleared to play after producing a series of strong displays in the VFL.
The news wasn’t all good for St Kilda, who have lost forward Jade Gresham (knee) for the next five months, and Jack Billings to a back injury.
The Hawks recalled Changkuoth Jiath, Jacob Koschitzke and Sam Butler.
De Goey is back for Collingwood’s MCG encounter with Port Adelaide after missing the past three games with a quad injury.
“I don’t think he’ll be eased into the game at all,” Pies coach Craig McRae said.
“Jordy’s fit and well. He looks fitter than (he did) prior to the bye.”
Forward Brody Mihocek was ruled out with hip soreness.
Lachie Jones, Xavier Duursma and Trent McKenzie are back for Port Adelaide, but Dan Houston (concussion) and Riley Bonner (health and safety protocols) are out.
Fremantle forward Rory Lobb will return for Friday night’s blockbuster against Melbourne at Optus Stadium, but Nat Fyfe is out with a hamstring injury.
The Demons recalled Jake Lever and Jayden Hunt, but James Harmes is missing after developing delayed concussion symptoms during the week.
Geelong defender Stewart returns from his four-week suspension for Saturday night’s crunch clash with the Western Bulldogs at the Cattery, while former Hawk Jonathon Ceglar replaces the injured Rhys Stanley.
The Bulldogs welcome back Caleb Daniel and Zaine Cordy but Adam Treloar was ruled out with a calf issue.
Round 20 will feature the debuts of two South Sudanese players.
Mac Andrew, the No.5 pick in last year’s national draft, will make his debut for Gold Coast in their clash with West Coast on Sunday.
Leek Aleer, the No.15 pick last year, will debut for GWS in Saturday’s encounter with Sydney at the SCG.
The Giants have been boosted by the return of Josh Kelly, Lachie Whitfield, Harry Perryman, Jesse Hogan and Tom Green.
Lachlan Keeffe, Kieren Briggs, Zach Sproule, Xavier O’Halloran, Jake Riccardi and Tanner Bruhn were all axed.
The Swans go in unchanged.
West Coast ruckman Naitanui and forward Willie Rioli are back to tackle the Suns, but Elliot Yeo’s comeback plans came unstuck due to a calf injury.
The Eagles also lost Alex Witherden (hamstring), Rhett Bazzo (ankle) and Josh Rotham (ankle) while veteran Josh Kennedy has been rested.
The Suns lost Charlie Ballard to a season-ending knee injury.
North Melbourne lost Aaron Hall, Aidan Corr and Paul Curtis to the health and safety protocols, while Essendon will be without Andrew McGrath for the same reason.
Tom Lynch returns for Richmond in Saturday’s match against Brisbane at the MCG while the Lions lost Daniel Rich to concussion.