Hawks regain star but doubts over spearhead

AFL Rd 10 - Hawthorn v Brisbane
Hawthorn star Will Day has recovered from a foot stress fracture and will face Sydney in round 7. Picture: Dylan Burns / Getty Images

Hawthorn will bring reigning best and fairest Will Day straight into the senior side to face Sydney after he was cleared to return from a foot stress fracture.

Day will play his first game for the year on Sunday after the injury derailed his pre-season in January, but the Hawks could remain without Mitch Lewis for another week as the key forward deals with a lingering knee issue.

Hawthorn fitness boss Peter Burge said Day’s return had been “a long time coming”.

“Will has done quite a bit of work over the last three to four weeks, where he has put himself in the position to return and play a full game this week,” Burge said.

“We’ve used the last two weeks to build his condition to a level where he is able to withstand (a full game) and handle it.”

Hawthorn Hawks Training Session
Hawthorn’s 2023 best and fairest winner Will Day will play his first game of the season against Sydney on Sunday. Picture: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images

Burge said Lewis had “a few hoops to get through” if he was to return to face the Swans, with concerns over his confidence changing direction after a history of knee issues.

“Last week we had the same (listed as a test) and we were hoping he would get through the first session and be able to do some drills and progress into training,” Burge said.

“But that didn’t happen, we just kept him straight line running so it’s worked out a little slower than we’d expect and we’re in similar position this week.

“He has improved from last week, we’ll look at it again tomorrow to see if we’re in a position to resume training and drills, but he needs to be confident accelerating at speed and going off line with his knee.”

Sydney could have two former captains return for the clash with Dane Rampe (hamstring) and Luke Parker (arm) both facing fitness tests later in the week.

Football training
St Kilda recruit Paddy Dow is ready to play his first AFL game on Friday night against Port Adelaide after a knee injury interrupted his first pre-season at Moorabbin. Picture: Michael Klein

Veteran Hawthorn forward Chad Wingard will also make his return from a ruptured achilles suffered last August, with the Hawks set to play him for half a game in the VFL.

Burge said luckless defender Changkuoth Jiath would miss at least two more weeks with a fresh quad setback he suffered at training on Friday.

St Kilda will be able to pick Carlton recruit Paddy Dow against Port Adelaide on Friday night after he got through his return from a knee injury in a VFL scratch match last weekend.

Mason Wood, who suffered a broken collarbone and a concussion in a brutal collision against Collingwood in round 2, also played in the scratch match and is set for a return in round 8.

Small forward Dan Butler will miss four to six weeks with the hamstring tear he suffered against the Western Bulldogs, while Max King could face the Power if he overcomes knee soreness in time for Friday night.