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Is Hodge a certain starter? Hawks skipper fails to train

Fyfe surgery, Eagles clear, Hawks intrigue Footy Feed goes coast-to-coast with Matt and Nat
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 29: Luke Hodge of the Hawks in action during the Hawthorn Hawks training session at the Ricoh Centre, Melbourne on September 29, 2015. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Luke Hodge at Hawthorn training on Tuesday morning

THE INTRIGUE surrounding Hawthorn's Grand Final preparations has taken another twist after skipper Luke Hodge failed to train with the main group on Tuesday.

Hodge and Jack Gunston were late arrivals on the track at Waverley, and both only participated in a couple of minutes of stationary handball drills before heading back inside Hawks headquarters.

Hodge, a dual Norm Smith medallist, appears to be nursing a right hamstring issue he sustained in the final quarter of his side's hard-fought 27-point preliminary final triumph over Fremantle.

Early in the last term, Hodge's legs were taken from underneath him as he backed into a marking contest and he landed heavily.

The inspirational skipper was slow to get up after the incident and needed lengthy treatment on the sidelines before he returned late in the match.

Match preview: The Grand Final

Meanwhile, Gunston was scheduled for the day off from training after he completed a searching 45-minute fitness test on Monday as he bids to return from an ankle injury.

The Hawks' spearhead hasn't played since the qualifying final defeat to West Coast in Perth, although he was able to kick on his injured right foot on Monday and push off while changing direction.

The star forward was set for more rehab, strengthening exercises and rest ahead of showing the coaching staff what he's capable of on Thursday. 

“We’re really happy with how Jack is progressing with his recovery,” football operations manager Chris Fagan told the club's website on Monday. 

 

“He completed a solid training session today, which included some run-throughs, sprint work, ball skills and goalkicking. 

“He will now rest on Tuesday and Wednesday, before training again on Thursday.” 

Selection heartache is looming for Gunston or potentially Ryan Schoenmakers.

Schoenmakers has performed solidly in two finals since Gunston went out of the side, taking 15 marks and booting three goals in wins over Adelaide and the Dockers. 

The swingman is one of only a few experienced Hawks yet to win a premiership medallion, having played in the losing 2012 decider and missing out on back-to-back flags due to injury and form.

In other news, Hodge and Gunston weren't the only players to leave Tuesday's session early, with speedy wingman Isaac Smith only taking part in stationary handball exercises before he departed training.

Smith, who has played the past three games since he damaged his left knee in round 23, happily gave high-fives to young Hawks fans as he returned indoors. 

Veteran Shaun Burgoyne only trained in runners and arrived on track while the bulk of his teammates were completing their warm-ups. 

Hawthorn's squad members – including Matt Spangher, Jon Ceglar and Will Langford – who played in Sunday's VFL Grand Final defeat only trained briefly away from the main group before returning indoors. 

The Hawks focused on hitting targets with short kicks while under pressure in the early stages of training, with the drill perhaps designed to pick their way through West Coast's defensive web this Saturday. 

 

Last time the teams met, the Eagles' pressure on the ball carrier and zone behind the play restricted the high-scoring Hawks to only nine goals at Domain Stadium.