Demons test an AFL opportunity for Hawks

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Back in lockdown and with no AFL finals prospects as a carrot for the remaining six games of the season, Alastair Clarkson insists Hawthorn won't lack for motivation when they take on Melbourne at the MCG.

The regenerating Hawks will start rank outsiders against the high-flying Demons on Saturday off the back of comprehensive defeats to Port Adelaide and Fremantle.

But Clarkson tipped his younger players - in particular his inexperienced forward line - to relish the challenge.

Mitch Lewis returns after his concussion to line up alongside fellow talls Jacob Koschitzke and Emerson Jeka, with Dylan Moore and Tyler Brockman also in the attacking mix.

The quintet have played fewer than 80 games between them and will come up against the competition's tightest defence, anchored by All-Australian contenders Steven May and Jake Lever.

"Any game of footy that our young guys can play at the moment is just absolute gold for where they want to go in the years to come," Clarkson said.

"It's a great opportunity for those guys over the last six rounds of the season to measure themselves against some of the better teams in the competition.

"We've got some really good sides that we're going to be playing against and we'll continue on this path of giving them exposure.

"They'll make lots of mistakes in that time, I'm sure, but they'll also get great benefit from playing against the experienced sides."

Ruckman Ned Reeves and versatile tall Tim O'Brien also return for the Hawks, who have lost Changkuoth Jiath (knee), Jack Scrimshaw (concussion) and Jonathon Ceglar (hip) to injuries.

Lewis will play his first match since round 11, having suffered concussion from a knock during a boxing session at training in June.

The 22-year-old took part in a scrimmage with players from other clubs last week but is short on genuine match practice.

"He's a pivotal part of how we want to move forward," Clarkson said.

"He's capable of taking strong marks and contested marks in our front end and he just straightens us up a little bit.

"He's probably a little bit underdone ... but he's got six games in the last part of the year to build up his match fitness and start to get a look at Koschitzke and (Lewis) and Jeka all playing together, with a bit of assistance from (Ben) McEvoy."

Melbourne have named the same line-up that bounced back to the top of the ladder with an impressive away win over Port Adelaide last week, retaining recently recalled forward Ben Brown in a tall attacking set-up with Tom McDonald and Luke Jackson.

The Demons have been inconsistent over the past month but found their groove against the Power and can ill-afford a slip-up against lowly Hawthorn as the race for top-four spots intensifies.

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