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David Hale dropped as Ben McEvoy returns for Hawthorn

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Hawks facing a tough run home

Can Hawthorn hold on to an all-important spot in the top four? Rohan Connolly previews this weekend's AFL action.

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The significant form slump of David Hale this season from his entrenched position as Hawthorn's favoured forward-ruckman has seen hin axed for the Hawks' match away to Adelaide on Friday night.

Hale, 30, kicked 63 goals across his first three seasons after leaving North Melbourne and, more importantly, has proved capable of rucking on his own late in matches, which has allowed the Hawks to routinely substitute a fellow ruckman for a smaller, faster player in the second half.

In 14 matches this season, Hale's averages for disposals (9.1) and marks (2.9) have fallen sharply, although his hit-outs (16) are only slightly below what he produced last year (16.9).

Unfamiliar feeling: Hawthorn leaves the field as losers last week.

Unfamiliar feeling: Hawthorn leaves the field as losers last week. Photo: Getty Images

In conjunction with Hale's form, the selection decision, disclosed by coach Alastair Clarkson as the team prepared to fly to Adelaide on Thursday morning, was influenced by the availability of specialist ruckman Ben McEvoy for the first time since he strained a hamstring in round 10. He will face in-form Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs.

Since joining the Hawks at the end of 2010, the forward-ruckman's only VFL experience has consisted of two appearances in mid-2011, as part of a comeback from a knee injury

Hale will be one of at least three exclusions this weekend, with defender Brian Lake to begin his four-match suspension and hamstring-injury victim Brad Sewell likely to be sidelined for about the same period.

Ben McEvoy has had to cool his heels for weeks.

Ben McEvoy has had to cool his heels for weeks. Photo: Getty Images

Dashing midfielder Brad Hill did not sufficiently recover from a knee injury to return against the Crows.

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