Will Day during Hawthorn's match against Carlton in round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN has been dealt a significant injury blow, with midfield star Will Day suffering a stress fracture in his foot.

Day returned to training with his Hawks teammates on Wednesday and completed some running, but left the track later in the session to have a scan on his foot after feeling discomfort.

AFL.com.au can reveal the scans showed the 22-year-old, who is Hawthorn's reigning best and fairest winner after a breakout 2023 campaign, has a fracture and will spend a number of weeks in a moon boot.

The club will then determine the timeline for Day's recovery and return, but with Hawthorn's round one clash against Essendon coming on March 16, it leaves the midfielder in a race against time to be fit for the start of the Hawks' season.

Given Day's long-term importance to the Hawks, the club won't be rushing his return.

"Will felt some discomfort during training today, so we sent him off for scans where that unfortunately showed a stress fracture in his foot," the club's high performance manager Peter Burge said.

"He'll spend at least the next few weeks in a moon boot while we further assess the injury and determine the timeline for recovery. During this time period, we will also consult with specialists to ensure we develop the best rehabilitation program for Will.

Will Day handballs during Hawthorn's clash against Collingwood in round 21, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

"Will is a young player that is going to have a long future at our football club, so we will be conservative in our approach to get him back on the field."

It is a setback for the Hawks on their first day back at the club for 2024, with Day becoming one of the emerging midfielders in the game last year when he played 21 out of 23 games, with the only two games he missed due to a suspension for a dangerous tackle early in the year.

The tall and mobile ball-getter moved from the half-back line to play a central role in Sam Mitchell's young midfield alongside Jai Newcombe, James Worpel and Conor Nash.

He also turned down massive rival interest to re-sign at the Hawks on a four-year deal through to the end of 2027.