AFL flag favourites Hawthorn may not boast the experience of recent premiership seasons but veteran Jordan Lewis is confident they have the depth.
The Hawks’ hold on top spot of the ladder slipped when they suffered a shock defeat against Melbourne at the MCG in round 20.
A loss to North Melbourne at the same venue on Saturday could result in the three-time reigning premiers being booted from the top four.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson will have to make at least two changes to his team.
Defender Ben Stratton will miss the rest of the regular season because of a pectoral injury, while forward James Sicily has copped a one-match suspension.
Angus Litherland is likely to be called up in Stratton’s absence, while Paul Puopolo (hip), James Frawley (shoulder) and Liam Shiels (hammy) could return from injuries on the weekend.
Lewis backed the club’s youngsters to step up in the final three rounds of the season.
“It’s always hard when you lose two senior players like last year .. that’s the depth you need,” Lewis said, referencing the retirements of defender Brian Lake and ruckman David Hale.
“We’re seeing young guys this year get games … they’re not at the 50-game level we want but we’ve seen players come in and play a role.
“The depth in terms of games played probably isn’t as good as it has been in the past.
“But the quality of player coming in is certainly up there.”
Lewis added the Hawks learned a lot in their review of a 29-point boilover against the Demons, calling the loss a “little bit of a kick up the bum.”
“There were structural issues, there was a little bit of effort and also an opposition that were probably harder and tougher than we were,” the midfielder said.
“Certainly you learn more from a loss than you do a win.
“It’s probably good that it’s come at this time and we learned some really good lessons out of the game.
Lewis rejected the notion his midfield’s lack of pace had been exposed by the Demons.
“We’ve made quick sides look slow as well. It’s probably the default that reporters go to, that when we lose like that we do look slow,” he said.
“The way they moved the ball and the way we defended probably made us look slow.”