James Sicily’s AFL semi-final recall is a stark reminder to the Western Bulldogs that Hawthorn usually nail match-winning shots on goal.
The Hawks made two changes for Friday night’s clash at the MCG, with Billy Hartung also returning.
Sicily missed last week’s epic qualifying final loss to Geelong because of illness and Hartung was dropped.
Teammate Isaac Smith had a shot on goal after the final siren on Friday night, but he missed to give the Cats the win.
It was a rare Hawthorn loss in a tight match.
Sicily kicked the match-winner against the Bulldogs in round three and that was also the last time the two teams clashed.
Hawthorn have had seven matches this season decided by nine points or less – last Friday was the first one they had lost.
The Hawks left out Ryan Burton to a calf injury and Daniel Howe, Sicily’s replacement, was dropped.
“Burton was close to being available for selection, but just not close enough,” said Hawthorn football manager Chris Fagan.
“You can’t afford to take a risk with players in finals, so unfortunately for Ryan he misses this week.
“James has recovered well and will bring us some added fire power up forward.
“Billy will add some good outside run and speed to the team which will be important against the Bulldogs.”
Hartung’s recall is a welcome change of finals fortune – he admitted to being devastated when dropped for the grand final win last year over West Coast.
He was also left out of the side for their 2013 finals campaign, which ended with the premiership win over Sydney.
Defender Taylor Duryea was named, despite hurting his hand against the Cats.
Toby McLean comes into the Bulldogs lineup after Lin Jong broke his collarbone a week ago in the elimination final win over West Coast.
It will be McLean’s second senior game this season since round 11.
As expected, Sydney recalled Jeremy Laidler and Toby Nankervis for Saturday’s semi-final against Adelaide at the SCG.
They come in for Rising Star winner Callum Mills (hamstring) and ruck-forward Kurt Tippett (jaw), while the Crows are unchanged.
Adelaide key forward Josh Jenkins rolled an ankle in the elimination final win over North Melbourne, but they are adamant he will play.