Sicily ready for Hawks AFL captaincy test

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James Sicily is ready to embrace his new role as stand-in captain as Hawthorn eye an AFL upset of virus-hit ladder-leaders Melbourne.

The Demons have had to tackle a host of COVID-19 issues in the build-up to Saturday night's clash at the MCG, with coach Simon Goodwin among those unavailable this week.

Premiership players Luke Jackson, Kysaiah Pickett, Tom Sparrow and Harrison Petty have all been ruled out.

Jake Lever and Jack Viney return from health and safety protocols and fellow flag star Tom McDonald has been recalled.

Sicily, who will captain the Hawks for the first time in his 100th senior game, is wary the obstacles could make unbeaten Melbourne an even more dangerous proposition.

"Usually things like that sort of spur a team on and probably gel them together even closer," Sicily said.

"Obviously it's been talked about that they're missing some key players and if I was in their position I'd be relishing another opportunity to prove people wrong.

"We're going to have to be at our best and start well."

Melbourne's 13-match winning streak dates back to August last year, with a wobble in July preceding their charge towards the drought-breaking 2021 premiership.

The Demons lost twice and won just once that month, and had a draw against Hawthorn that Sicily said had given his side belief an upset is possible this time around.

"To know that we can match it with them and we have done good against them, albeit a draw, it means that you're not far off the mark for that week," Sicily said.

"I'm sure we can take some confidence out of that, that we can match it with them because we've done it in the past."

Sicily was this week named captain for the next month, taking over from fellow fill-in Jaeger O'Meara, as regular skipper Ben McEvoy remains sidelined indefinitely with a neck injury.

The Hawks will reassess their leadership structure after round 10, with Sicily and O'Meara the leading candidates to succeed McEvoy long-term.

"I'm going to enjoy the challenge that comes with (the captaincy) and hopefully get a good result on Saturday," Sicily said.

"I think I'm quite empowering of my teammates and know what their strengths are and can tell them that's how they should go about their footy.

"I've got strong relationships within the club which allows me to have good conversations, whether that be a challenging conversation or one to just give someone a cuddle and encourage them."

Hawthorn have managed Josh Ward and Denver Grainger-Barras this week, recalling Lachlan Bramble and naming Jackson Callow for his debut.

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