Injury problems don't hurt, say Hawks - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Injury problems don't hurt, say Hawks

25/05/2009 03:10:56 PM Comments (0)

First there was a massive injury toll to deal with.

Now there's selection pressure for Hawthorn as their premiership players queue up to return - and find their replacements have done a lot more than hold the fort in their absence.

Long-term injuries to several senior players - most notably star defenders Luke Hodge, Trent Croad and Stephen Gilham - have weakened the Hawks' experience factor substantially.

But a 22-point win over Melbourne at the MCG last weekend leaves Hawthorn deadlocked in a group of clubs with 5-4 win-loss records behind unbeaten duo St Kilda and Geelong - and no damage done so far to their hopes of back-to-back AFL flags.

Premiership duo Xavier Ellis and Clinton Young are poised to return from injury against Adelaide this Sunday, while experienced Stuart Dew starred in the reserves after being dropped for the Melbourne game.

But such is the form of their young replacements that none are certainties.

And Hawks defender Campbell Brown says that means the team can only get better as the year goes on - with ominous signs evident in an excellent first half against the Demons.

"It's worked really well for us. There's probably 10 or 11 sides fighting for the last two spots in the top four and the rest of the top eight - we're definitely still in the mix," Brown said.

"The injuries have given opportunities to a lot of young fellas and they've really taken it.

"The depth at the club is really fantastic and once we get a few more of the senior blokes back on track, we can only get better."

Brown said Hodge was likely to be at least another week away as he battles a groin problem, but even he may find himself having to come through the reserves.

"A player like Luke, he's one guy you could bring straight back into the side, but that'll be up to the coaches and the fitness staff to work out exactly where he is at.

"If he does need an extra bit of match practice, he can go down to Box Hill (reserves) like anyone else at the club.

"But hopefully he can get up and about over the next few weeks."

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