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Lake, Johnson recalled for clash of titans

Recent finals titans Hawthorn and Geelong will boast near full-strength teams on Friday night, with the Hawks' Brian Lake and the Cats' Steve Johnson both named for the MCG qualifying final.

An impressive performance in Hawthorn's final training session,  which included comfortably kicking more than 50 metres, convinced coaching and fitness staff Lake had overcome the hip injury that had him hobbling from the MCG last weekend. The club recalled captain Luke Hodge (knee), midfielder Bradley Hill (corked quad) and defender Ben Stratton (calf) from minor injuries, at the expense of Ryan Schoenmakers, Angus Litherland and Billy Hartung.

The Hawks have also kept faith with versatile ruck-forward duo David Hale and Jonathon Ceglar, with  Ben McEvoy named as an emergency.

The return of the Cats' Johnson, after three weeks out with a stress reaction in his foot, has been complemented by the inclusion of rested duo Steven Motlop and Hamish McIntosh.  A blow for the Cats was the inability of dashing midfielder Allen Christensen to sufficiently recover from the back soreness that sidelined him last weekend.

Josh Walker won the unofficial duel with Mitch Brown for the right to be Geelong's secondary key-forward, behind spearhead Tom Hawkins. Brown, who kicked one goal last weekend, was dropped,  as were Billie Smedts and Lincoln McCarthy.

 Lake moved freely in handball-scrimmaging drills, prompting Hawk coach Alastair Clarkson to say: "He's tracked as we thought.  He got a knock to that hip - a bit of a corky - and that caused a bit of a nerve response down through his groin and lower leg, but he's responded pretty well to treatment this week."


While Clarkson said he was optimistic Lake would be fit to fulfil "a pretty important job for us", reprising the role on Hawkins he filled successfully  a fortnight ago. But Clarkson insisted the Cats' scoring threat did not start and end with the hulking forward, who kicked seven goals last weekend against the Brisbane Lions.

"He's been a focal point but it's not like he's kicked a hundred goals. He has been an important contributor for them but they've shown, like us, they can get a spread of goalkickers, too.

"We need to be focused on their whole outfit rather than just one player.

"We know he's a formidable opponent and can do some damage if he gets a lot of supply, but we'll be more mindful of the whole side than just one guy."

Clarkson's mission to diversify Hawthorn's scoring load after the 2012 grand final, when then spearhead Lance Franklin's inaccuracy was pivotal, has emphatically succeeded, with Luke Breust (53) and Jack Gunston (51) combining for 104 goals.

Beyond Hawkins' 62 goals - the same contributed by the Hawks' Jarryd Roughead - the Cats rank 13th for goals contributed by their next two leading goalkickers -  Jimmy Bartel (24) and Mitch Duncan (22).

The only finalist with an inferior tally to Geelong is Essendon, for whom Joe Daniher (24) and Paul Chapman (20) have contributed 44 goals.

 Clarkson said he was unsure if or how the qualifying final would differ to their clash in round 22, when the Hawks' 10-goal streak allowed them to overcome a poor start and notch a 23-point victory.

"You're just looking into a crystal ball. No one really knows, do they? Who would've thought that game would've unfolded the way that it did two weeks ago?" he said.

Clarkson said he hoped long-kicking defender Matt Suckling, would be available for selection in the Hawks' next match.