Will McCabe after being drafted by Hawthorn in 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

HAWTHORN has lost another key defender on the eve of the 2024 season with father-son recruit Will McCabe sidelined for at least three months, but reigning Peter Crimmins Medallist Will Day has taken a significant step in his recovery.

McCabe arrived at the club via pick No.19 in November's AFL Draft but has been limited across the past month with a back issue.

Scans have revealed bone stress in McCabe's lower back, delaying the 18-year-old's start to his debut season.

While McCabe wasn't expected to feature at senior level early this year, the injury compounds a tough situation down back following last Thursday's nightmare intra-club at Waverley Park.
James Blanck ruptured his ACL and will be sidelined for the rest of the year, while former top-ten pick Denver Grainger-Barras suffered turf toe. Grainger-Barras has since undergone surgery and is expected to be sidelined for up to 14 weeks.

Hawthorn signed Box Hill recruit Ethan Phillips to provide defensive coverage over the weekend ahead of Monday's pre-season supplemental selection period deadline.

The 197cm intercept defender will feature in Friday's match simulation against the Western Bulldogs and could come under consideration for a debut in the early stages of 2024.

Ethan Phillips marks the ball during the round six VFL match between Port Melbourne and Greater Western Sydney at ETU Stadium on April 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Day has taken the next step in his recovery from a stress fracture in his foot, removing the moon boot on Wednesday for the first time in six weeks.

The South Australian has started body weight exercises and is gradually build up his running.

Day has been ruled out of round one but the Hawks remain hopeful the star midfielder will be available for selection within the first month of the season.

Karl Amon won't face the Bulldogs due to soreness but the former Port Adelaide wingman is expected to play in the second practice match against the Luke Beveridge's side on March 2 ahead of the season-opener against Essendon on March 16.