HAWTHORN finals wildcard Daniel Howe is closing in on a fresh two-year deal to extend his stay at Waverley Park.
As Howe mounts his case for a September return, AFL.com.au understands the 22-year-old is set to commit to the Hawks until the end of 2020.
One of a number of uncontracted Hawks, Howe's signature would allow Hawthorn to turn its attention to landing an A-grade midfielder, with Giant Dylan Shiel at the top of its wish list.
Set to play restricted minutes in Box Hill's VFL elimination final with Port Melbourne on Saturday, Howe will put himself in the frame for a recall against Richmond five days later.
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The midfield stopper has been sidelined since round 18 in two separate incidents involving Carlton's Patrick Cripps and Zac Fisher.
Put to work on the training track in recent weeks, Howe could be in line to quell the influence of Tigers Brownlow medallists Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin in the MCG qualifying final.
Drafted with pick 31 in the 2014 NAB AFL Draft, Howe has played 48 matches, including 15 this season.
The former Murray Bushranger is among a host of Hawks who could feature in September uncontracted beyond this year.
Ryan Schoenmakers, Paul Puopolo, David Mirra and Teia Miles were part of the side that secured the double chance against Sydney last Saturday and are seeking new deals.
Marc Pittonet featured in rounds 21 and 22 and sits behind Jon Ceglar and Ben McEvoy, while Jono O'Rourke has been emergency for the past four weeks after he was dropped in round 19.
Free agent Taylor Duryea played the first 16 games before being edged out and is in the frame alongside Brendan Whitecross, who was among the best in the VFL last weekend.
Another key priority over the summer will be initiating talks on extending first-year revelation James Worpel's contract, which is set to expire at the end of 2019.
Worpel has averaged 23 disposals since winning his spot back in round 18, with the Hawks expected to wait until after their finals campaign before beginning negotiations.