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Key Hawk set for first pre-season hit-out

Dimma's deal, Harley's hope, Greene's cash Tuesday Footy Feed from AFL.com.au

HAWTHORN premiership defender James Frawley appears set to play his first game for more than nine months on Saturday night when he lines up in the JLT Community Series game against Carlton in Launceston.

The 29-year-old will be returning to University of Tasmania Stadium where he hurt his toe in round eight last season, badly enough that he didn't play again this year.

He suffered a slight groin injury during an intraclub game last month that briefly delayed his comeback, but he trained well on Tuesday and seems ready to go.

"James is a really good chance to play," Hawks high performance manager Andrew Russell told hawthornfc.com.au.

"He trained fully today and will be a test on Thursday.

"He's had a couple of areas of tightness over the last few weeks, but he's looking pretty good and I expect to see him out there this week."

Meanwhile, star forward Cyril Rioli is now a realistic chance of being available for the start of the season after his best training session of the pre-season. Rioli suffered a season-ending PCL injury the same day as Frawley and then had a delayed start to the summer after his father suffered a heart attack in late September last year.

 

"He was explosive and looked his old self again, which is really exciting," Russell said.

"We need to work out how much time he needs. He needs to be conditioned well.

"He’ll be ready when he’s ready and that will be some time around round one."

Grant Birchall is back doing ball work, and according to Russell, the veteran half-back has "turned the corner" after various complications stemming from a PCL injury last season.

Ruckman Jon Ceglar is recovering from back tightness and has resumed running, but he and Birchall would appear to be the only Hawks who can be absolutely ruled out of the season-opener against Collingwood at the MCG on March 24.

Russell said he expected the Hawks to field a strong side for the hit-out against the Blues.