Will Day during a Hawthorn training session at Waverley Park, April 19, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

HAWTHORN coach Sam Mitchell has moved to temper expectation on Will Day as the club's reigning best-and-fairest winner prepares for his long-awaited return to action against Sydney.

Day enjoyed a breakout campaign last year but has missed the first six rounds this season after a foot stress fracture in early January.

The 22-year-old will complete his comeback in Sunday's match against the high-flying Swans at the MCG.

His inclusion bolsters a Hawks side that claimed its first win of 2024 against fellow strugglers North Melbourne last week.

"He's still young and he hasn't played a heap of footy, so it's not like he's going to be the man that fixes every problem that we've had across the season so far," Mitchell said on Friday.


"He's an important player for us but I'm not expecting him to get best-on-ground in every game for the rest of the season.

"I think it's important that he gets back out there and starts to find his feet again, but I think everyone will be pleased to have him back out on the field."

Mitchell indicated the versatile Day would split his time between midfield and defence against Sydney as he rebuilds his match conditioning.

"He'll give us a little bit of something different around the middle of the ground," Mitchell said.

Sam Mitchell and Will Day during the round two match between Hawthorn and Melbourne at the MCG, March 23, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We're pleased he's back and he's worked really hard to get himself to this position, and he's ready to go.

"If we were to get an injury or two early in the game, he's capable of playing a full 100 minutes or thereabouts, but maybe expect him to have slightly lower game time than some of the other mids."

Hawks key forward Mitch Lewis (knee) is also on the verge of returning, named in an extended squad for the Sydney game, while experienced goalsneak Chad Wingard (Achilles) will return slowly through the VFL.

Changkuoth Jiath remains sidelined after suffering a quadriceps strain last week, just before he was poised to return from a hamstring injury.

Changkuoth Jiath during a Hawthorn training session at Waverley Park, April 19, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

The latest setback continues a run of soft-tissue injuries for the 24-year-old speedster, who has not played a senior game since round nine last year.

"He did so much work and worked so hard in the gym and out on the oval and really was quite patient with the hamstring," Mitchell said.

"To be nearly back to game conditioning and be nearly ready to play and then to have another setback is enormously disappointing for him.

"But he's had to build resilience in this time and he's done a really good job."