They may be without a couple of injured stars, but Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson won’t be resting players for Friday’s AFL mismatch against Essendon.
Star midfielder Sam Mitchell didn’t take part in the Hawks’ final hit-out before Friday’s Etihad Stadium clash, with the former skipper battling general soreness following their hard-fought win over Melbourne.
Forward Jack Gunston has also been struggling to overcome an ankle injury, but Clarkson said he wouldn’t rest fit players against the last-placed Bombers.
“We’re not wrapping anyone in cotton wool, if they’re fit to play they’re playing,” Clarkson said.
“‘Mitch’ (Mitchell) has been a bit sore this week so he won’t train.
“That happens at this time of the year with six-day breaks, so we’ll just see how that unfolds.”
Clarkson didn’t expect his defending champions to be complacent against Essendon despite their contrasting form, with the Bombers winning only one game this season.
“We’ve got to prepare for Essendon’s best,” he said.
“They’ve been a bit up-and-down and inconsistent as you’d expect with a younger side, but whenever we come up against an opposition we always prepare for their best footy and some of their footy in patches throughout the course of the year has been really, really good.”
He said the Hawks had plenty on the line apart from the result, with a number of players looking to lock in their positions in the senior side.
“We’ve got some things internally that we need to concern ourselves with rather than anything to do with the opposition and the stage of the season,” he said.
Hawthorn captain Luke Hodge returned to ball work this week as he continued his comeback from his round six knee injury.
Clarkson said Hodge could possibly play against front-runners North Melbourne next Friday night, but was pencilled in to face Gold Coast the following week.
“He’s been training particularly well but we’ve gone on record as saying he needs to do a really good block of training,” Clarkson said.
“It’s more likely to be the Gold Coast game or even after the bye.”