Cyril Rioli will return from a long injury layoff this weekend
HAWTHORN will be without midfielder Liam Shiels for up to a month after the 22-year-old injured his ankle against the Brisbane Lions last Sunday, but look set to unleash Cyril Rioli for his first game since round five.
Shiels limped from the ground after hurting his right ankle during the third quarter of the 58-point win, although he was able to return and play out the game.
However, the club's head of coaching and development Chris Fagan said the young Hawk would not be fit to take on Geelong this week.
"It’ll be at least two weeks and possibly four," Fagan told hawthornfc.com.au.
"It all depends on how his rehab goes – it's one of those types of injuries. The good part is that 'Shielsy' is a quick healer, so hopefully he'll be back sooner rather than later."
Hawthorn is yet to announce if Rioli, who has missed nine weeks with a hamstring injury, would make his comeback in the AFL or VFL.
"He'll return to football this weekend; at what level, we're not sure yet, but he'll certainly play football this weekend," Fagan said.
Injury-prone midfielder Xavier Ellis is set for an indefinite period on the sidelines, throwing his ability to secure a place for the finals into doubt.
In just his second senior game of the season, Ellis strained his calf and had to be subbed off against the Lions.
Fagan was unable to put a timeframe on a possible return.
"It's an injury that will take a little while to mend," he said.
"We'll obviously give the soft tissue a little time to repair and there'll be a conditioning block to follow that.
"At this stage, we're probably not quite sure how long it'll be because we want to make sure that he's really fit to play when he returns."
Ellis has managed only 16 games since the start of 2011.
The 25-year-old is out of contract and an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
The Hawks will have Paul Puopolo (quad), Max Bailey (knee soreness) and Brent Guerra (back) available for the top-of-the-table MCG clash after the trio trained on Tuesday.
So too did defender Josh Gibson, who Fagan said had escaped serious injury from a frightening head-first fall after jumping into a pack on Sunday.
"He definitely pulled up with a sore-ish neck, but he trained today and has recovered well," Fagan said.