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Hodge's knee should be fine: Clarkson

21/08/2010 08:50:06 PM Comments (0)

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson is confident star midfielder Luke Hodge will be fit for Saturday's big AFL clash against Collingwood.

The Hawks paid a price for Saturday's 116-point demolition of undermanned Fremantle, with Grant Birchall suffering a hamstring injury and Hodge wrenching his knee.

Fremantle youngster Tim Ruffles also hurt his knee early in the match.

Hodge is arguably Hawthorn's best player and was high among their best, but Clarkson is confident he will not miss any games with the finals only two games away.

"He just wrenched his knee, he's as good as gold, we had the luxury late in the game of being that far in front that we could afford to take him off and leave him off," Clarkson said of Hodge.

"Not unless he pulls up scratchy tomorrow, we think he's going to be fine."

But Birchall, who had played every game this season, pulled up suddenly in the third term and is definitely out of action until well into the finals.

"That's a disappointing aspect of the game, because he was up and going and playing quite well for us," Clarkson said.

The Hawks coach brushed aside talk about Fremantle fielding a side well under full strength, pointing out the win confirmed their finals berth.

The Hawks are the best team outside the top four and Clarkson is bullish about what they can achieve next month.

It has been another testing year for the Hawks, who had a six-game losing streak early in the season and another slump at the start of this month.

"We've had to dig ourselves out of a hole a couple of times," Clarkson said.

"It's really important you stick to your beliefs and how you put in place a process that allows you to win enough games to play finals footy - we've done that now.

"We're unable to make the top four, which is obviously the best position to assault a premiership from, but we'll see how we go.

"We have belief in the group we can go deep into September, we just have to make sure we have momentum and a good list of players, we're pretty happy with the durability of our group at the minute."

Clarkson said the pro-Hawthorn crowd would have enjoyed the match, regardless of its lopsided nature, and is looking forward to Saturday's stern pre-finals test against the minor premiers.

"We have a lot of supporters down here and they love seeing Hawthorn win.

"There's not a lot of goals scored on this ground, it's the first time we've kicked over 20 goals at this ground, and people love the spectacle of Australian Rules when a lot of goals are kicked.

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