Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge is one of several big-name inclusions for Friday’s AFL round-18 clash between the premiership favourites and Essendon at Etihad Stadium.
Norm Smith Medallist Hodge is back from a knee injury for his first AFL game since round six, having picked up 24 possessions for VFL side Box Hill Hawks last weekend.
Hodge was named on the bench and coach Alastair Clarkson says he’s considering making the 27-year-old the substitute player.
“If you bring him in as a sub, it’s likely he might play anywhere between 30 and 50 minutes if the sub works out ideally and you make that sub towards the end of the third quarter,” Clarkson said on Thursday.
“But if you have him as the sub and have an injury early on he might have to play 90 per cent game time and that’s not ideal.
“We’ve got to make those judgments, it will depend on the rest of our side, it’s not just about Hodgey.”
The third-placed Hawks also regain Brent Guerra (from suspension), replacing Thomas Murphy and Kyle Cheney.
The sixth-placed Bombers have been strengthened by the return of speedster Jason Winderlich for his first AFL game since round four 2011, when he broke down with a knee injury.
Rugged midfielder Heath Hocking returns from suspension and Alex Browne also returns at the expense of Cory Dell’Olio, Ricky Dyson (ankle) and David Myers (achilles).
The Bombers named Stewart Crameri on the half-forward line despite a concern over hamstring tightness.