AFL finals start now for Lions coach

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The razor-thin margins at the top of the AFL ladder essentially mean finals football is already here as far as Brisbane coach Chris Fagan is concerned.

The third-placed Lions are entrenched in the race for a top-four spot with just four points separating them from seventh-placed Carlton ahead of Sunday's MCG clash with Richmond.

A win over the Tigers would not only end an eight-year wait for a victory at the ground but continue to keep the Lions ahead of the chasing pack.

Lose and the door may open to their rivals and it's a scenario Fagan is all too aware of.

"It's just about winning this weekend to be honest," Fagan said.

"It almost becomes now, it's a final every week, and it is if you look at the ladder. The ladder is so tight.

"So the motivation for us, our agenda, is just get it right this week and let the future handle itself.

"You get caught up looking at ladders and wondering who's going to win here and who's going to lose there.

"It's just about us trying to win our games because that's the only bit we control."

The Tigers are staring down the barrel of a second-straight season without finals football after three games without a win.

Having suffered back-to-back defeats to Gold Coast and North Melbourne by less than a goal, last weekend's draw with the Dockers has Damien Hardwick's team 10th on the ladder and two points outside the top eight.

In response, Hardwick has axed ruckman Ivan Soldo for the visit of the Lions while key forward Tom Lynch will return from a hamstring injury.

Fagan says the Tigers' recent results weren't an indication of their performance and the threat they will pose on Sunday.

"Their win-loss is not great the last four or five weeks but if you actually watch the games they've lost because they haven't kicked straight in front of the goals mostly or they've given up decent leads," Fagan said.

"Not so long ago before they had this little run of losses everyone was saying 'they're the team, they're coming', and that's the team we expect to play against at the weekend.

"They're desperate to make finals. We're desperate to try and finish top four.

"There's a lot of stake and hopefully you'll see the best of both teams."

Brisbane have made one enforced change from the team that beat Gold Coast last weekend with Keidean Coleman returning from a hamstring niggle in place of concussed defender Daniel Rich.

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