HAWTHORN key forward Mitch Lewis is nearing a return to full fitness after missing the end of last season, but his new partner in attack Mabior Chol won't join the main group at Waverley Park until after Christmas.
Chol was traded from Gold Coast to the Hawks late on deadline day, in a deal that also netted pick No.62 but cost a future second-round pick to secure the key forward.
The 26-year-old started training with Sam Mitchell's squad last week but is confined to a modified program this side of January due to a knee injury he sustained in the Suns' VFL Grand Final win over Werribee in September.
Chol has been completing running and light skills work alongside Lewis and is expected to be ready to start the new year with the main group, building towards Hawthorn's season opener against Essendon on March 16.
After kicking 44.27 from 22 appearances in 2022, the former Tiger struggled for opportunities in Queensland this year, following the return of Ben King from a knee reconstruction and a career-best season from Jack Lukosius.
Lewis missed the final two games of the home and away season due to a mid-foot sprain that has taken time to settle, but the spearhead is on track to return to the main group before Christmas if he continues progressing at this rate.
The 25-year-old recovered from an ACL scare in January to return by round seven and kick 36 goals – one less than his 2022 haul – from 15 appearances in 2023.
Changkuoth Jiath has also spent the early weeks of the pre-season training predominantly with the rehab group alongside Lewis and Chol, but the half-back has started transitioning back into the main group after enduring another frustrating season with his body.
The 24-year-old only managed eight games this year and didn't feature after round nine due to calf and Achilles issues, but Jiath is almost ready to be let off the leash again.
Karl Amon will be managed this side of Christmas after the wingman carried a knee injury across the second half of his first season at Hawthorn.
Triple premiership forwards Luke Breust and Jack Gunston, who returned to Waverley Park after one season at Brisbane on a chaotic deadline day that sent Brandon Ryan to the Lions, won't train with the main group across the first half of the pre-season.
The veteran pair will complete their own programs to help manage ageing bodies, but will transition back into full training in January.
Dual All-Australian Chad Wingard is on track to start running early in the new year with a target of returning mid-season after rupturing his Achilles tendon in August.
Hawthorn has completed its coaching panel for 2024 by adding former St Kilda forward and Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs as a development coach, following the appointment of former St Kilda and Carlton senior coach Brett Ratten in the off-season.