Injuries badly hurting Hawks: Clarkson - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injuries badly hurting Hawks: Clarkson

By Adam Cooper 09/05/2009 09:26:54 AM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson attributes his side's woes this AFL season to injuries and an unsettled backline.

A third of the way through the season the reigning premier has lost four of its seven games and Friday night's defeat to Essendon has it outside the eight, whereas the Hawks were undefeated at this stage last year.

Clarkson said he rotated 14 players through the backline in the 17.14 (116) to 10.12 (72) loss at Etihad Stadium in a bid to comprise a makeshift defence given the impact of injuries.

"Last year the key plank of our success was the fact that a lot of those guys in our back six hardly missed any games of football," he said.

"If you look at the (unbeaten) St Kilda side right now, their back six don't miss games, so we're looking forward to our defenders getting back on the park and playing some consistent footy together."

But Hawthorn's defensive woes might get worse not better over the next week, as half-back Luke Hodge needs a rest to ease a strained adductor.

Clarkson said last year's Norm Smith medallist had been playing hurt for the past three games, and the Hawks would consider leaving him out of the side to play Fremantle on Friday night.

"He's tried over the best part of the month to carry this injury and he's just been below his best and we need to make a decision over the course of the next week whether we allow him to keep playing or just give him a rest for two or three weeks and get it right," he said.

Hawthorn should regain Stephen Gilham (knee), Xavier Ellis (foot) and Brent Guerra (back) in coming weeks, but key defender Trent Croad (foot) is still some way off.

The Hawks suffered another injury against the Bombers, as onballer Chance Bateman suffered a strained calf.

While yearning for some stability to his side, Clarkson said the Hawks - who were badly shown up for speed and ball use by Essendon - were not producing the sort of football that made them a powerhouse in 2008.

"We're a much better side than what we showed (last) night, but having said that, we know that if we don't play anywhere near our best we can become quite an ordinary, middle-of-the-road side," he said.

"We need to try to get our season back on track next week against Freo."

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