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Returning Hawk Whitecross 'right to go' for start of season

Stevie J in cotton wool, Hawks eye in sky Training update from Cats and Hawks
Brendan Whitecross in action during Friday's training session - ${keywords}
Brendan Whitecross in action during Friday's training session
He's progressing really well and he's on track to be right to go come the start of the season
General manager of football operations Chris Fagan
HAWTHORN utility Brendan Whitecross is targeting a return to action by the start of the season as he builds his way back from the second reconstruction of his right knee.
Whitecross, who has not played since he went down during the epic 2013 preliminary final win over Geelong, suffered a small setback in his rehabilitation before Christmas when he experienced some soreness.
But the 183cm Hawk looked in terrific shape as he completed running exercises – including sprints around the boundary – at training on Friday.
"At the moment he's in a full-on running program and he's in and out of skills. So he's progressing really well and he's on track to be right to go come the start of the season," general manager of football operations Chris Fagan told
"It's been a slow one. But when it's your second reco you want to get it right and we took the graft from a different spot (left patella tendon) that hopefully does a better job this time around.
"It's a bit of a tougher area and sometimes that can get a bit irritated, which is what happened before Christmas. That's often what happens, and we knew that."
Joining Whitecross on the comeback trail is damaging half-back flanker Matt Suckling, who underwent post-season surgery to remove part of his kneecap.
"That was causing him issues last year and all they've done is remove that. It's not that dramatic. It's just a little bit at the top that was separated," Fagan said.
"He's back running in full and doing some skill work, so we're happy with where he's at."
Suckling, whose right knee was reconstructed in 2013, trained away from the main group – who were put through their paces over two 20-minute halves in an intra-squad match.
Triple-premiership star Cyril Rioli roamed across the ground in the first half before jogging laps with Will Langford as the second stanza unfolded.
Rioli has enjoyed a problem-free pre-season and after consulting experts – including sending a physiotherapist to a conference in Spain - the Hawks are testing some different strengthening techniques to address his history of hamstring injuries.
"Cyril's going really good. No mishaps for him. He's working really hard on some hamstring strengthening stuff that we've introduced this year after we did a bit more research and got a few experts in for the summer," Fagan said.
"We think we're getting better at managing him but only time will tell."
Most of Hawthorn's squad took part in what was an intense scratch match followed by sprints and constant running drills during a three-hour session at Waverley.
But Matt Spangher (calf), Tim O'Brien (hamstring soreness) and rookie recruit Lachlan Langford (back) were among those on modified duties.
Pleasingly for coach Alastair Clarkson, some of the shining lights on the track were the lesser-known players.
Crafty half-forward James Sicily, who was the 56th selection in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft, and elevated rookie Dallas Willsmore impressed in attack.
Rookie midfielder Jared Hardisty threw himself into the contest, while New Zealand-born rookie Kurt Heatherley ran himself into the ground rebounding from defence.
Ryan Schoenmakers played up forward, where he could to try and nail down a spot in 2015 after the arrival of James Frawley.
Frawley was strong at full-back and the ex-Demon has completed every session this pre-season.
James Frawley hasn't missed a beat since arriving from Melbourne. Picture: AFL Media
Fellow recruit Jonathan O'Rourke also hasn't missed a beat, although his workload has been modified after he arrived from Greater Western Sydney nursing a hamstring.
Fagan said the majority of the Hawks have a clean bill of health, something the club struggled with throughout last season.
"Even the ones that have got little injuries are still running and coming back from things," Fagan said.
"We've got a healthy list at the moment. The next three or four weeks of training is always a testing time for all AFL clubs.
"There's an increase in intensity towards game play and the grounds get a little bit harder."