Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson has begun a gradual and low-key return to work, participating in the occasional meeting as he continues to recover from his auto-immune condition.
While the Hawks will not decide whether Clarkson is ready to resume any coaching duties for at least the next two weeks, he has been using the club’s facilities as part of his rehabilitation program.
Clarkson has also sat in on a few coaches meetings and watched Melbourne play Collingwood on Monday, with Hawthorn happy for him to keep his mind occupied and to remain in touch with what is happening around the club during his absence.
Clarkson, 46, fell ill at the end of May and was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a condition caused when the body’s immune system starts attacking its own nerves.
He conceded last week he felt "absolutely helpless'' as he watched the Hawks squeeze past Greater Western Sydney in the first of their two games without him.
Club chief executive Stuart Fox confirmed Clarkson had been well enough to spend brief amounts of time at the club, but stressed the Hawks would not allow him to resume full-time work until he had fully recovered and been cleared by his doctors to start increasing his workload.
''He’s been able to spend a little bit of time at work, predominantly to use the facilities and do a little bit of swimming in the pool as part of his rehab,'' he said.
''That’s been good for him and he’s also been able to drop in on the odd meeting, which is really just to help make sure he stays stimulated and keeps in touch with people.
"We’ll review how he’s going in a few weeks. We won’t be making any decision on whether he’s ready to work again before then, but he’s improved a lot. He’s progressing really well.''
Hawthorn has been coached by Brendon Bolton throughout Clarkson’s absence, beating the Giants and West Coast with a number of influential senior players missing because of injury.
Defender Ben Stratton is a chance to return from an adductor problem against Carlton on Friday night, with ruckmen Ben McEvoy (hamstring) and David Hale (quad) also hoping to play after overcoming minor injuries.
Brian Lake is closing in on a return from a calf injury, while Sam Mitchell (hamstring) will miss at least three more matches, and Josh Gibson (pectoral) another six or seven.
First-year midfielder Billy Hartung has been ruled out for at least a month after damaging an elbow on Saturday, while Jed Anderson has been sent for reconstructive surgery on a shoulder and won’t play again this season.