2008 Brownlow Medallist Adam Cooney believes the top eight has taken shape, even after just four rounds.
He says injuries at contenders currently outside the eight, may cost their teams key games in the race for a finals position, while other sides may be just too far back.
“I can’t see anyone from outside the eight sneaking their way into it,” Cooney said on SEN Afternoons.
“Sydney they’re 0-4, so they’re a long way back. Now they get a host of their stars back this weekend, I think (Kurt) Tippett’s playing, Isaac Heeney and Jarrad McVeigh, so they will be three players who will make a difference.
“They play GWS this week so they could be 0-5, it’s very, very unlikely (they make the eight).
“Two big injuries Rory Thompson and Steven May (at Gold Coast), who did his hamstring last week.
“They’re two real key defenders out and with Sam Day out for the year that’s three of their four best key position players.”
Cooney had high hopes for St Kilda after a solid pre-season, but admits to be being disappointed with their performance against Melbourne, in a game against a team he believes are at a similar level.
“I was pretty bullish about the Saints pre-season,” he said.
“The only game I’ve seen of them live was round one when Melbourne dismantled them. I thought they would put up a better showing than that.
“They need to get a move on the Saints and they just need to win those 50-50 games, against a team like Melbourne who are around the same mark.”
One team he expects to maintain their top eight position is the Dees, despite the long-term injury to star ruckman Max Gawn.
“We know Max Gawn’s out for a significant period of time, but Jordan Lewis coming back into the side will help and Jesse Hogan coming back into the team,” Cooney said.
“Once those guys are back, they looked really good against St Kilda who a lot of AFL pundits were comparing the two teams together in terms of talent and where they sit on the ladder.
“The Dees are eighth at the moment, I like their positivity they play with, their defensive structure is sound I believe, apart from moments on the weekend against Fremantle where they didn’t adjust late to Freo having a spare defender.”