Lake could return in grand final rematch

Ben Stratton says fellow Hawthorn defender Brian Lake is primed to return for Saturday’s AFL grand final rematch.

Lake has missed three games due to a knee injury, but could be recalled alongside Jordan Lewis and Isaac Smith for Saturday’s MCG clash with Sydney.

“He’s had a good block of training and he’ll probably slot straight back in,” Stratton said on Monday.

“That’s up to the selectors.

“It’d be nice to have him back, but having said that the guys have stepped up (in Lake’s absence).

“They’ve been playing good footy, so it’ll be tough for selectors this week.”

Coach Alastair Clarkson might have to drop three players from the side that thumped Melbourne by 105 points, with midfielders Lewis and Smith automatic selections.

Lewis has served a two-match suspension, while Smith missed round seven due to gastro.

Lake blanketed Kurt Tippett in last year’s grand final and also spent some time on Lance Franklin.

The Swans endured a torrid time in the 2014 grand final, none more so than Franklin who was taunted by his former teammates throughout the one-sided game.

Hawks skipper Luke Hodge even went so far as planting a kiss on Franklin’s cheek during the 63-point belting.

“Anything to put off Buddy and stifle his influence on the game,” Stratton said with a grin, when asked about the side’s plans for the superstar this weekend.

“Usually when you come up against teams like Sydney and Geelong, you look at trying to stop their big players and their influence.

“He’s a very important player for them.”

Although Stratton, who plays his 100th game on the weekend, won’t make a beeline for Buddy.

“I hear it here and there, but try and stay clear of it and do my thing,” he said of potential sledging on Saturday.

“I don’t reckon he’s too bad, he gives it back as well.

“It’s a bit of fun and I’m looking forward to it.”

Stratton expected free space would be at a premium during the blockbuster.

“It’ll be a tough game. Lots of tackles, lots of stoppages,” he said.

“They’ll be pretty fired up.”

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