Hawthorn’s injury list is set for a crucial cull, with two, and possibly three, premiership stars to return for Saturday night’s clash against a surging Port Adelaide.
Skipper Luke Hodge, small forward-midfielder Liam Shiels and bruising midfielder Brad Sewell are fit to play, with Hodge and Sewell almost certain to line up at Adelaide Oval.
Hodge has overcome a hamstring problem that forced him out of the loss to Sydney before the bye, with Shiels (shoulder) and Sewell (hamstring) also fit.
Football operations boss Chris Fagan said Hodge had trained well this week and was ready for the top-of-the-table clash.
Sewell’s return helps offset the loss of Sam Mitchell. He will play his first senior match of the season, having had an interrupted campaign. He had 22 disposals and nine tackles in the VFL last weekend, and his toughness at stoppages will be needed if the Hawks are to curb the Power’s run.
“He’s let the selectors well and truly know that he’s available this week if they want to pick him,’’ said Hawthorn's football operations boss, Chris Fagan.
Shiels has not played for five weeks after he was hurt in a clash with Gold Coast’s Jarrod Harbrow. The Hawks will debate whether he should return via the VFL or step straight into senior combat.
“Everything he’s done at training this week indicates that he’ll be available to play football. We’ve just got to decide at what level that is,” Fagan told the club’s website.
Full-back Brian Lake (calf) remains up to three weeks away from returning, while fellow defender Josh Gibson (pectoral) won’t return for about 10 weeks.
Mitchell (hamstring) is out for six weeks, Cyril Rioli (hamstring) for up to three, while Matt Spangher (ankle) is out for a week.
Fagan said the players had appreciated the bye, having had four matches in 18 days before the break. “The break will have done them the world of good. We’ve had three training sessions since they returned and had a hard run on Saturday morning.''