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Hawks and Pies in a fight for Young love

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CLINTON Young faces a choice between remaining at Hawthorn or joining Collingwood as a free agent, with the Brisbane Lions acknowledging they are unlikely to snare the left-footer.

Young, who had surgery to his foot on Tuesday, has been offered a new contract by the Hawks, who remain optimistic about retaining the 2008 premiership player.

Collingwood is the major suitor, having created room in its salary cap by trading Sharrod Wellingham to West Coast in exchange for the Eagles’ first pick and possibly trading Chris Dawes. The Hawks believe they have room to retain Young and have left the ball in his court, with an upgraded contract on the table.

Stephen Gilham and Tom Murphy remain out of contract for the Hawks, who have acquired Brian Lake on a two-year deal that is far below the wage he was due at the Bulldogs (estimated at $450,000).

Young visited Collingwood’s Westpac Centre on Monday and, if he joined the Pies, would in effect replace Wellingham, who had a contract offer from Collingwood of about $1million for three years before he decided to go home to Perth.

Brisbane list manager Rob Kerr said the Lions appeared to be behind another club in the pecking order for Young.

For Collingwood, the strategy appears to be one of receiving trade picks for the players it loses and replacing them in the short term with older, unrestricted free agents, while using the picks to ensure a longer-term yield.

It relies on having room in the salary cap to accommodate the free agents, with Quinten Lynch having joined as an unrestricted free agent.

Young is 26 and has served only eight years but is an unrestricted free agent because he falls outside Hawthorn’s top 25per cent for remuneration.

 He was a member of Hawthorn’s 2008 premiership team and its 2012 grand final side.
Hawthorn, too, has taken advantage of the new free agency system: the Bulldogs felt compelled to trade Lake and receive some return — gaining pick 21 and 41 in return for Lake and pick 27 — because they would have received very little when the key defender was out of contract next year.

St Kilda is confident of reaching a deal with Gold Coast over ruckman Tom Hickey.   
The deal  is likely to be expedited by the finalising of the Josh Caddy trade to Geelong yesterday.

St Kilda and West Coast remain in a standoff over Eagle Mitch Brown, who wants to be traded back to Melbourne and is concerned about spending another year behind other tall backs at the Eagles.

The Saints want Brown in exchange for Jamie Cripps, a Western Australian who wishes to become an Eagle, and are threatening to let Cripps go into the draft. Brown is under contract for next year.

The Saints have a number of players in play, given that Farren Ray is a trade option for Melbourne.