Hawks adamant Hodge is on track

Hawthorn has strongly denied it will be without skipper Luke Hodge for the first five rounds of the AFL season.

However, Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson admits Hodge, who has sat out early pre-season games with a knee problem, might not line up in the season-opener.

"We're anticipating Hodgey's going to be playing footy at round one – but just what footy that is, we've got to make a judgment at that point in time," Clarkson said on Thursday.

He said Hodge was on track to resume soon at some level if he has no further complications.

"But he's training today and we've still got four weeks until we play. My experience with footy is that four weeks is a good time, once you start full training, to get yourself ready to play.

"We've just got to make a judgment on when he starts to play matches and whether he's conditioned well enough to play round one," Clarkson said.


"But he's the captain of our club – it's going to be pretty tempting to select him, I'd imagine, but we'll make that call at the time.

"We're happy with his progress."

Clarkson said Hawthorn, which will play the Western Bulldogs in the NAB Cup clash at Etihad Stadium on Friday night, would probably follow a number of clubs which have forecast they will give players more time out this season.

"I was interested in reading an article that came out of Collingwood that they would consider resting some players more this year.

"I think that's been happening across the whole competition the last two or three years – even the newer clubs have been doing that with some of their younger players."

Clarkson said there were several Hawthorn players available for the pre-season cup clash who will sit out the game because the clubs' priorities are with others who need the game time.

"I think in the home and away, there will be a lot of players who will be rested just to allow them to go the distance."

Hawthorn will face the Bulldogs with star midfielders Sam Mitchell, Brad Sewell and Jordan Lewis all playing for the first time this year.

The Hawks lost to Gold Coast and the Brisbane Lions in round one but Clarkson is unconcerned.

"Our focus even last week, when we were zip-zip, is all about game time with our players," he said.