Where and when: Marvel Stadium, Friday, June 14, 7.50pm AEST

FOLLOW IT LIVE Bombers v Hawks

TV, radio and online: Click here for broadcast guide

What it means for Essendon: It's the first game of a big three weeks for the Bombers if they're to make a dash to the finals. They face West Coast (away) and then Greater Western Sydney after the Hawks, so need to bag a win before facing the top-four contenders.

What it means for Hawthorn: The Hawks are similarly middle-road like the Bombers, so if they're to stay in the race for the top eight, being a win ahead of their rivals would give them a handy position. 

The stat: Hawthorn's had a truly up-and-down season. Alastair Clarkson's side hasn't been able to string together back-to-back wins yet, and in the past seven weeks have alternated between wins and losses. If the trend continues, it's not good news for the Bombers. 

The match-up: James Sicily v Jake Stringer

Stringer is expected to return from his hamstring strain to take on the Hawks, and could a match-up against gun defender Sicily await? Sicily is ranked the second best small-medium defender in the game according to the Official AFL Player Ratings

It's a big week for: Jack Gunston

After a six-goal haul in the Hawks' round 10 win over Port Adelaide, Gunston didn't hit the scoreboard in their loss to Brisbane in round 11 before their bye last week. At his best he'll pose problems for the Bombers. 

Jack Gunston needs to fire against the Bombers. Picture: AFL Photos

Big call: Andrew McGrath is best afield with 33 disposals and a goal in a damaging midfield performance.

Prediction: Essendon by 12 points