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No respite for AFL leaders and laggards

Round 15 sees the battle at both the top and the bottom of the AFL ladder intensifying: Rohan Connolly previews this weekend's AFL action.

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Essendon dropped Tom Bellchambers, while Geelong regained Harry Taylor and lost Hamish McIntosh as they made four changes apiece for their must-win AFL blockbuster.

The Bombers also regained tall utility Jake Carlisle from a knee injury and he is likely to help Paddy Ryder in the ruck on Friday night at Etihad Stadium, given Bellchambers’ absence.

Bellchambers has played the last five games after returning from off-season ankle surgery, but has struggled for form.

Bombers defender Michael Hibberd passed a fitness test.

Bombers defender Michael Hibberd passed a fitness test. Photo: Getty Images

Paul Chapman has targeted this first match against his old club - sure to be one of the highlights of the night - and Jackson Merrett is the fourth Bombers inclusion.

The ‘Dons lost Jason Winderlich (suspension) and Mark Baguley (back), with Elliott Kavanagh also dropped.

Bombers defender Michael Hibberd passed a fitness test after hurting his leg against Adelaide.

The Cats were already without in-form midfielder Mathew Stokes and McIntosh also has not recovered from an ankle injury.

Taylor, one of the league’s premier defenders, is an important inclusion.

Dawson Simpson will take McIntosh’s place and George Horlin-Smith and Jed Bews are the other recalls.

Geelong dropped Billie Smedts and Josh Walker.

Greater Western Sydney’s tough assignment at the SCG on Saturday became even harder when the Swans regained key forward Kurt Tippett and midfielder Ben McGlynn.

They lost Rhyce Shaw (ankle) and dropped Tom Derickx, while the Giants brought back Jeremy Cameron for Tom Boyd.

Veteran ruckman Dean Cox is back for West Coast ahead of Saturday’s western derby against Fremantle.

The Eagles also brought in Patrick McGinnity, with Scott Lycett and Jason Cripps dropped.

The in-form Dockers recalled Matt Taberner for Alex Silvagni (ribs)

Richmond and St Kilda regained big names for Saturday’s match at Etihad Stadium.

Chris Newman and Ty Vickery are back for the Tigers, who dropped Shaun Hampson and lost Aaron Edwards (groin).

The Saints will regain Leigh Montagna, along with Rhys Stanley and Luke Dunstan, and left out Farren Ray, Tom Lee and Brodie Murdoch.

Hawthorn continue to regain key players, with defender Ben Stratton returning for Saturday’s Launceston game against Gold Coast.

He came in for Ben Ross as the Suns lost Brandon Matera to a groin injury and brought in Jesse Lonergan.

Brisbane promoted Daniel McStay for his senior debut in Saturday night’s home game against North Melbourne.

They also regained James Aish, Ashley McGrath and Ryan Lester.

Darcy Gardiner was rested and the Lions dropped Nick Robertson, Tom Cutler and Zac O’Brien.

Robin Nahas (shoulder) is out for North Melbourne and Max Warren is the inclusion.

The Western Bulldogs have lost captain Ryan Griffen (back) and Jordan Roughead (shoulder) for Sunday’s game against Melbourne.

AAP