HOW do you improve a winning - and unscathed - line-up? Add quality players, such as strong-willed midfielder-forward Sam Powell-Pepper.

The selection squeeze is on at Alberton with Port Adelaide regaining proven players from the injury list, rather than losing valued talent as has been the theme in the past fortnight.

Powell-Pepper has made his case to play against Brisbane this weekend after leading the team statistical count in the SANFL with 34 touches and 1.1 in Port Adelaide's 10-point loss to Glenelg on Saturday night.

And half-back/wingman Riley Bonner returns to the selection table - most probably for SANFL action - after recuperating from a serious hamstring injury that put him on the sidelines after the season-opener against North Melbourne at the Docklands on March 21.

Powell-Pepper's comeback to AFL action - after stepping away from football for personal reasons late in the pre-season in March - is keenly anticipated. 

Port Adelaide midfield coach Jarrad Schofield also appreciates the power Powell-Pepper adds to the response his division needs to atone for last season's 37-point loss to Brisbane at the Gabba on July 4.

"He is right in the mix," Schofield said at Alberton on Tuesday. "For sure ...

"He had a fantastic game on Saturday night. He played the brand of footy we expect of Sam. And he has ticked all the boxes and presented himself well on the track. He is fit. And he was very good at the weekend.

"Over the last couple of weeks we have lost midfielder-types, Zak Butters and Xavier Duursma to injury - and Sam fits that mould. With his performance at the weekend, he would be putting his case forward for selection.

"He is in our best side when he is up and going."

Midfield bull Sam Powell-Pepper was among Port Adelaide's best against the Bays at the weekend.

Port Adelaide's strong wins against AFL premier Richmond and Carlton forced selection changes with injuries to Butters (ankle), Duursma (knee) and first-year defender Lachie Jones (ankle). The commanding 54-point win against St Kilda at Adelaide Oval on ANZAC Day leaves Port Adelaide to consider unforced changes.

"It was pleasing we got through unscathed," said Schofield. "And we had some good performances from the blokes who played with the Magpies. We will go to match committee (on Tuesday) dissect it, see what it looks like - but it is just pleasing that we got through unscathed because we have been a bit battered and bruised. It is a credit to the boys ...

"We are always looking at the right mix to beat the side we are coming up against. Form is always a big part of that. And we have to look at the bodies we have playing. We will make a calculated decision on players.

"At the same time, we want to keep guys playing good football - and when they are in a good space, you want them to keep playing."

Brisbane has lost to injury Brownlow Medallist Lachie Neale (ankle), a midfielder who at both Fremantle and with the Lions has built a strong record against Port Adelaide by a 9-5 win-loss count and a disposal average of 29.64.

09:38 Mins
Published on

Jarrad Schofield press conference - 27 April 2021 | PTV

Jarrad Schofield speaks to the media at Alberton Oval.

Published on

Whatever relief comes from not seeing Neale on the team sheet this weekend is lost by noting the other threats posed by Brisbane in this top-eight clash at the Gabba.

"We know Brisbane run deep," said Schofield. "Yes, they have lost Neale but once again, we will pick a side that matches up with Brisbane physically ...

"Lachie Neale is a Brownlow Medallist, a quality player - and when he is not there, you can't take your foot off the pedal and relax because he is just one of 18 on the field. Whoever steps in (for Neale) is going to be hungry for that position. Brisbane do run deep, especially around the midfield. They are a very good outfit there."

Bonner has proven his fitness to be on the selection whiteboard at Alberton, but is expected to be tested against SANFL premier Woodville-West Torrens at Alberton Oval on Sunday.

"He will play footy this weekend," said Schofield. "He has ticked all the boxes in terms of passing every (physical fitness) test that he needs to on the strength and conditioning side. Where that (game) will be we will find out at the end of the week, but he is definitely discussed (at match committee). He was in good form before he went out and he could have pushed last week to play, so he has another week under his belt and he will be ready to go."